Layten Smith named Youth of the Year

Young speakers impress judges and audience

Lions Youth of the Year contestants, back, from left, Matthew Nash, Auley O’Shea, Layten Smith, front Jemma Baxter and Emily McFarland with Narrabri Lions president Ross Campbell.

Five young Narrabri High School students impressed the judges and their audience at the Lions Youth of the Year Quest speech contest at Narrabri RSL Club on Monday night.’

How many people can speak convincingly for two minutes on a subject they have just been given?

And then do it again with a second subject?

That was one of the tasks for the Youth of the Year contestants and each met the challenge confidently and with conviction.

The impromptu topics were ‘I’m moving to Australia - what should I expect?’ and ‘Will I be using cash, digital currency or cryptocurrency in 20 years time?’

After presenting their impromptu speeches to the audience of Lions, community members, school representatives, and of course, proud parents, the contestants stepped forward to each deliver a prepared speech.

Their presentations were judged by Sheryl Ridley, Rob Dugdale and Rebecca Cope.

The judges and audience were impressed with the content and delivery.

First speaker Layten Smith’s topic was music - his lifelong interest and passion.

Emily McFarland argued the case for euthanasia, a thought provoking and well researched presentation given real world and personal relevance drawing on the death of a relative.

Matthew Nash’s theme, that academic results at school were not the ultimate criteria for future success, resonated with many in the audience.

Jenna Baxter presented the case to change Australia Day in the interests of true national inclusiveness. January 26 was not a day of celebration for indigenous people.

Auley O’Shea’s theme focussed on seeking popularity at school as a misplaced priority.

The speakers were roundly applauded.

The five had been interviewed at length on the Saturday before Monday’s public speaking section of the quest and the judges found them all equally creditable.

However, a winner had to be named and after long deliberation on Monday night Jenna Baxter was announced as the winner of the public speaking section and Layten Smith the Youth of the Year winner overall.