Public Speaking Family

Public speaking teaches skills that benefit students for the rest of their lives


Students pour from classrooms, finished for the day. Three students slide into a small room, two sisters and a brother, ready to talk about their upcoming Speech Arts performances.

Adam Nicholas, 12, his 10-year-old sister Ruby and eight-year-old sister Claire exude confidence. From their first year in the Ecole Baker French Immersion program, the three siblings participated in Speech Arts with their classmates.

“I was a little nervous but not as nervous if the spotlight had been on just me,” Ruby said.

Claire agreed, saying that Kindergarten experience of performing with a group was a great first performance.

The Nicholas children are now Speech Arts veterans. Ruby has four years of experience and this year is entered in the poetry section as well as sight reading in which the competitor is handed a written piece and must recite it without rehearsal. They then have one minute to read it over, then deliver with all the inflection, expression and confidence they can muster.

In all, Ruby will deliver four entries during Speech Arts, April 17 – 18 in Ecole Baker elementary school gym.

Older brother Adam is competing for the fourth year and says he feels very comfortable delivering his speech arts. This year he will recite his own original poem as well as a sight reading piece.

Amazingly, Adam’s first solo recitation was also one of his own original poems about beavers.

When asked about writing poetry, this pre-teen shrugged his shoulders and admitted his inspiration comes from pretty much anything around him.

“Then I write it as it comes to me,” he said with a grin.

Adam’s original entry this year is a humorous poem about family, monkeys and siblings.

This is Claire’s third year standing before an audience and an adjudicator but her brand of confidence is almost contagious. Bright sparkling blue eyes and a sprightly, bouncy personality shine.

Without much provocation she recites this year’s entry Sneezles, a poem written by A.A. Milne, known for his Winnie-the-Pooh books.

The poem is complicated, with many rhyming combinations but Claire sailed easily through her piece.

For the first time this year, Claire will also tackle a sight reading.

Ruby’s entry is a “big tongue-twister” which she has been working on and is confident about her delivery.

“I like showing people I can do it,” she said.

Their mother, Barb Mark said, “I think she was born with it.”

All three siblings credit retired Ecole Baker teacher Mme Atkinson, current teacher Mrs. Simpson, but most of all their mom for helping them gain the confidence and skills to compete. Last year Ruby and Claire tied for the Speech Arts trophy.

Barb felt encouraging her children to speak in public would serve them well in all their future endeavours.

“I never did public speaking as a child and I’m still terrified of getting up in front of people,” she admitted.

As to where their particular speech arts pieces are sourced, Adam, Ruby and Claire again look to their mother for guidance.

Their house has many inspirational books including an anthology of poetry.

Each of the children has their own distinct personality and method of preparing for Speech Arts.

Adam is quiet, loves to read and claims to be just like his mother; Ruby, who also loves to read but is more outgoing claims a blend of her mother and her father; whereas Claire, the most outgoing of the three, says she’s just like her dad and has not great desire to read but loves to perform.

Barb smiles at her children lovingly and agrees.

She radiates confidence in her children and knows they will all do well.

“My advice to any student or parent looking to perform in Speech Arts is to pick your piece early then practice, practice, practice,” Barb said with a smile.

“And Speech Arts is

perfectly suited to boys participating, of which there are only a few this year.”

Speech Arts is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 17 – 18 in the Ecole Baker elementary school gym with Christina Rogers adjudicating.

Although photos, videos or other distractions are forbidden, spectators are encouraged to come and see Quesnel’s home grown talent.

Check out the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts (QFPA) website for dates and times for other QFPA disciplines.

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