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October 24, 2014
February brings public speaking trophy to Mountain View Academy

February might be the second month of the year, but this year’s winner of the Lion’s Club South/LIME Secondary Schools Public Speaking Competition was determined to walk out of the finals with nothing less than first place!

On Wednesday, October 22, Eric February fought off stiff competition from five other competitors{{more}} to gain the judges’ nod – making this the first time that the Mountain View Adventist Academy (MVAA) has won this competition since it was taken over by the Lions Club South. The MVAA won the competition before, in 1991, under the auspices of the St Vincent Jaycees.

The 14-year-old winner said that he was “elated” at his success, and that although he doubted his chances a bit when he saw the competition, he had prepared fully to take home the trophy.

“After preparing the speech (main topic), I realized that there wasn’t much more I could do except go over the speech, memorise parts… and just try and internalize it so I would be able to present it in such a way that would prepare me,” he explained.

A member of the Calder Seventh Day Adventist Church, Eric also said that he and his family prayed a lot in the run up to the finals.

“We prayed for God to work his will!” he said, sounding very much relieved.

Second place went to Damali James, of the Bishop’s College Kingstown; and third place was taken by Chrislon Fraser, of the St. Vincent Grammar School – who also won Best Main Topic. Andrieka Samuel, of the Girls’ High School won Best Impromptu Topic with ‘Bad Roads’.

The top three finalists each won scholarship prize money which will be given to them on completion of secondary school. Additionally, Eric won a $500 room makeover from Fine Things.

The main topic that the six competitors presented was ‘Regardless of the title it carries, citizenship by investment – with all its risks – is practiced by many countries with great success. Do the opportunities outweigh the risks?’

With a maximum limit of 10 minutes to present, Eric, who migrated to St. Vincent from Guyana nine years ago, spoke for nine minutes and 43 seconds.

In addition to placing first overall, the Calder Ridge resident also won Best Student Prepared Topic. His lively and often humorous presentation (5 minutes, 4 seconds) was titled ‘Is your smartphone smarter than you?’, and seemed to touch a very familiar chord with the majority of the audience. His impromptu topic was ‘The West Indies Cricket team’.

Anthony Ollivierre, principal of the MVAA, said that he was very pleased with Eric’s triumphant performance, and that the preparation for the final was thorough.

“We prepared well, we had the right person and we expected nothing less than that,” he enthused.

Referring to Eric, Ollivierre said that since placing second overall at the Common Entrance Examination and joining the MVAA, he has been a consistently top-performing student.

“He would always be in

the forefront as it relates to academic performance… look out for him when he does his CSEC!”

Eric, the oldest of three children of Desmond and Tricheal February, had some words of advice for students who wish to participate in next year’s competition.

“From now, they should be preparing, building their own confidence, just throwing out topics and trying to speak on them,” he pointed out. “[They should] build up their vocabulary because that’s one of the things that can help with the impromptu, and can help when they are writing up the speech itself.”

The winning school will receive $2,500 worth of project funds from LIME, and each of the finalists walked away with an Android smartphone – also courtesy LIME – along with data and Internet plans.

The other finalists were Gailesha Huggins, of the Central Leeward Secondary, and Shaiyeid Eunis, of the St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua.

The judges on the night were retired principal Iris Mounsey, retired senior education officer Carlton ‘CP’ Hall, lawyer Akin John, regional commercial manager at St. Vincent Brewery Ltd Shafia London-Williams, and Cheryl Rodriguez, chair of the Beauty Shows Committee and a retired banker.