Congratulations to Year 11 student, Rowan Worsley, and Year 12 students, Aylin Aktekin and Zac Corcoran, who participated in the Lions Youth of the Year Jindabyne competition last week.

Of the event, SMGS Assistant Head of Senior School and HSC English Teacher, Mr Tim Bland, said, “The Lions Youth of the Year aims to encourage, foster and develop leadership, in conjunction with other citizenship qualities in young people. Students are judged on various attributes, including leadership, personality, sportsmanship, public speaking and good citizenship. This competition aims to encourage student interest in leadership and the qualities required to take an active and constructive role in the community. SMGS wishes to extend our thanks to the Lions Club of Jindabyne and Michael Kowalewski for organising the event this year. The Lions Club plays a pivotal role in promoting youth activities in the community, which is very much appreciated.”

Zac Corcoran will represent SMGS and Jindabyne at the regional Lions Youth of the Year competition in Ulladulla after winning the Public Speaking and Overall categories.

We caught up with Zac after the event to hear about the format, themes and his overall experience at this year’s event:

Can you provide a run-through of the event (what you had to do) and the topics of each speech?

The Lions Youth of the Year competition is divided into three main sections: the interview, impromptu questions and a prepared speech. Everyone was interviewed individually by a panel of three judges from the Jindabyne community who asked specific questions about your initiatives at school, involvement outside school, academic achievements, aspirations, strengths in the workplace, as well as hobbies and recognition of your achievements in the last two years. On top of that, they ask how participation in the Lions Youth of the Year will assist you in your future. Each interview goes for 15-20 minutes and after you have answered these questions, the judge panel has an opportunity to ask you about your answers, to either clarify or delve deeper within your answers.

We had a short break after this process in which we got to have lunch with the panel and prepare ourselves for the impromptu questions that followed. During this next challenge, the contestants had to choose their own order as this would then be reversed in the speeches that followed. After each person spoke, they would sit in the audience to watch the next person come in and speak on the same questions. For this section we were required to speak for two minutes on the topic of a current affair, either internationally or within Australia. We were read the question twice, then our two-minute time began. In this case the questions were:

  • COVID 19 is a worldwide virus – how will the vaccine help and affect us in the future?
  • There have been multiple sexual assault allegations within parliament this year. How have politicians modelled good behaviour for Australians in response to this?

After we finished the questions, all competitors had 5 minutes to prepare for our speeches, on which we were marked on our understanding of our topic as well as overall presentation. The order for these speeches was the opposite of our order for the questions, so that all had the chance to be first or last. This was our final challenge during which all competitors watched one another’s speech and waited eagerly for the results. 

After this process, the final judging began, where we were all asked to leave the room so that the judges could decide.  When we were invited in, they asked us to sit down and we were all presented with participation awards. Then the results were released and photos taken, where we had time to receive our feedback on all stages of the competition. 

What did you like the most about this event?

I found that it was a chance for me to get pushed out of my comfort zone in aspects that would help me in the future such as job and university interviews as well as public speaking. I found the whole process also really good for me to reflect on myself and my achievements throughout the past few years that helped me become who I am today. It was also extremely helpful to receive feedback on the things that I could improve on in the future to not only help with the whole process but to also help me excel in my chosen field after school.  

What did you think was the most challenging part?

I found the impromptu questions the hardest part as you were encouraged to think on your feet about topics that affected not only Australia but the entire international community and was a very broad area which you had little time to research. I also found this to be the best part for me to push myself to excel as I had to employ skills such as public speaking and improvisation that I work on constantly through Drama. It was also challenging to hide the fact that I knew very little about some of the topics but luckily I had some smaller statistics to help me out in this section and that really helped me excel in this challenge. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank Mr Michael Kowalewski for organising this event as it is something I have always wanted to compete in and because of COVID 19 I was unable to compete last year. Due to Mr Kowalewski’s efforts my dream came true and in doing so he helped me extend myself further not only into the community and this competition but further into who I am as a person and delve deeper into those qualities that will help me succeed in the future. I would also like to thank my competitors from both SMGS and JCS, as without them I wouldn’t have had to push myself to succeed in this competition and their efforts are what really drove me throughout this competition. 

We wish Zac the best of luck in the regional round.