Marian Catholic College duo win Rostrum voice of youth, and head to Yass for semi-finals

Two gifted Marian Catholic College students are heading to Yass to compete in the semi-finals of one of Australia’s leading public speaking competitions. 

Muntaqim Chowdhury and Megan Beecher won the junior and senior Rostrum voice of youth competition for Griffith secondary schools. 

The Area News tested their speaking skills by making them give impromptu speeches on topics nominated by their super coach Tara Suidgeest.

We were stunned by how eloquently they instantly spoke on the complex topics of “advertising targeting children is immoral” and “If I ruled the world...”, despite having had no preparation. 

Nayani Navaneethan of Marian College took out second place in the junior competition, while Emily Adamson of Wade High finished third. 

Marian’s Talissa Cerato and Tom Geddes-Kanety of Griffith High took out silver and bronze in the seniors.

Megan Beecher is a veteran of speaking contests – the 18-year-old has already won a string of prizes – while the others were competing in their first major event. 

“Megan is so passionate about her speaking that she’s helped build a culture at the school,” Miss Suidgeest said. 

When asked what sparked this passion, Megan said, “Dad made us do it. I mean, I really like being able to share my opinion in an open forum.”

“I want to be everything when I grow up,” Muntaqim said.

Rostrum organiser Carmen La Rocca said, “public speaking develops the self-confidence, communication skills and expressive language qualities that are so vital in today's world -particularly for young people on the threshold of their careers.”

Rostrum has organised the voice of youth speaking competition since 1975.

In the competition, seniors speak for eight minutes and juniors for six minutes. Participants prepare and present a speech on one of the set topics. 

Rostrum would like to thank the sponsors for this year's voice of youth: Guidolin Agrimac, Elders Rural and Hanwood Village Store, and the adjudicators: Tony Del Gigante and Brian Young.

For further information on Rostrum, go to