Tuesday, January 11 2022

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Just keep breathing and don’t forget to smile. That was the message from Gabriella Smith, winner of this year’s Tasmanian Legacy Junior Speaking State Finals. “I’m always nervous about speaking in public, but I’m really passionate and want to make a difference,” she said. READ MORE: 42-year-old woman drowns in Bicheno “You just have to focus on what you do and say, instead of who is listening.” The 15-year-old from St Patrick’s College was recognized as Tasmania’s top junior lecturer on Friday, beating fierce competition from across the state. Given her pedigree, few would have been surprised Ms Smith had been crowned champion among the eight contenders. Two years ago his brother was sitting in the same seat and, after winning in Tasmania, headed for the national final. But it was her younger sister who caught the eye in 2021, and she attributed the public speaking genes to passion. “We all love to speak in public and love to get involved in it,” Ms. Smith said. “A few years ago in elementary school it was encouraged and we had a lot of background as debaters. So we just moved on to public speaking.” Ms Smith remained suitably diplomatic about the victory, ignoring questions of whether her record in public speaking could translate into a life in politics. Instead, the ninth-grade student remained ambitious about going to college and eventually studying law, which her public speaking skills would translate to as well. READ MORE: Report calls for ‘innovative strategies’ to tackle housing crisis During the competition, Ms Smith spoke about the topic of ‘social justice’, which she said was inspired by what was happening in the world around here – locally, nationally and globally. She said things like equal pay, helping people with disabilities and mental well-being were her passions, which made them easier to communicate to judges. “I am passionate about issues and want to educate our own community about it,” said Ms. Smith. “These are current events happening. It is important to share the issues and speak out, and stand up for why the present is not right.” While Ms Smith has spoken at length about important societal dilemmas, it was her ability to weave the taste of ice cream with the work of Marie Curie that caught the judges’ attention. The second part of the event pitted a contestant against a contestant in a battle of quick thinking and quick talk on the impromptu subject of “ice cream”. “When I saw ‘ice cream’ I thought it would be nice to have a little light-hearted – it can be awesome, it’s tasty and we all enjoy it,” Ms. Smith said. The Junior Public Speaking Award has been awarded by Legacy since 1988, when it was launched in Melbourne. The award’s first interstate final was held in 1995. Legacy Launceston had been a part of the event ever since its inception. Northern Tasmania was strongly represented in 2021 with six of the eight competitors from the north. What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor:



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