Liverpool student wows peers in public speaking competition

A Year 10 student from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi impressed audiences recently as she took part in The Historical Association’s ‘Great Debate’ competition. 

The Great Debate is a public speaking competition where students have five minutes to present their speech arguing their answer to the question. This year’s competition was in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, who is the patron of The Historical Association, and her platinum jubilee. 

The Queen’s reign was the inspiration behind the question of ‘Which changes of the last 70 years have affected your local area the most?’.  

14-year-old Annaelle suppressed any nerves she had and took to the stage, alongside much older students from Winstanley College and Upton Hall Sixth Form, to speak about the Toxteth Riots and the impact it had on the local area. 

The Toxteth Riots happened in July 1981 and arose from long-standing tensions between the local police and the black community. 

Annaelle said: “I decided to do my speech on the Toxteth Riots because the events that led up to it, and the effects that it had on my local area, hit very close to home for me. As a young black woman, I have always understood that I would have to face more obstacles in life than the average person. 

“The Toxteth Riots was an enlightening topic for me to discuss as I got to gain more insight into how my life, and the lives of other people who look like me, are affected by racism, poverty and social class. I would never have explored this topic without the Great Debate and it was great experience to gain.” 

Annaelle is no stranger to debates as she is a proud member of The Academy of St Francis of Assisi’s Debate Mate team. 

History teacher, Diane Roscetti, helped Annaelle prepare for the competition. She said: “I am incredibly proud of Annaelle for taking to the stage and speaking so eloquently for five minutes about her topic of choice. Not only did she speak in front of judges and students she didn’t know, which is daunting in itself, but she also competed against sixth form students who have many more years of practice under their belts. 

“Whilst she may not have won this particular heat, she has used the platform to share great insight into her life and the Toxteth Riots. Well done, Annaelle!” 

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