Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition 2021

On Tuesday, 18 May, Snowy Mountains Grammar School held its 22nd annual Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition.

With last year’s competition being held online, staff, students and families were elated to come together this year to watch the competition in person; however, with the success and benefit of the live-streamed event last year, we provided a live-streaming option for this year’s event as well.

Who is Maria Kisich?

The Maria Kisich trophy was named in honour of the school’s first English teacher, one of the founding teachers of Snowy Mountains Grammar School, and who promoted the importance of public speaking skills and encouraged their development at SMGS.

Meet this year’s adjudicators

This year, our adjudicators were alumnae Jo Windeatt (2007) and Renee Connor (2013), both former successful speakers in this competition.

Former SMGS School Captain Jo Windeatt studied Public Relations at the University of Canberra and Event Management at Griffith University. With a diverse background, including working abroad, Jo was recently accepted into the NSW Police Academy and is currently studying to become a police officer. Jo said, “Most of the jobs I’ve worked in (and will work in with the police) are very heavily communications based and, looking back, I certainly benefited from doing quite a lot of public speaking all through school, including the Maria Kisich competition.”

Renee Connor is also a former SMGS School Captain. She graduated in 2013 and since leaving school has been working in Italy and Thredbo. She is currently studying a Diploma in Wedding Event, Planning, Styling and Design, and taking a course in calligraphy. Renee hopes to keep Italy and the mountains as a big part of her life and to continue studying the Italian language and culture. 

The  2021 Competition

Eighteen students participated in this year’s event across four categories.

Upper Primary – Year 6                                                                                                     

Ruby Kite – I Took a Big Risk

Zac Rowland – Glaciers

Eliza Peake – Going to Mars

Noah Horvath – A Better Way

Junior – Years 7 and 8

Jack Miners – Zoom

Samantha Stynes-Garratty – The Lies of My Life

Aiden Moore – The Journey

Georgette Philpott – Waking up on the Wrong Side of Bed

Dempsey Woolf – Life in Lockdown

Intermediate – Years 9 and 10

Emily Willsmer – Stereotypes

Georgia Rumball – Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Elise Philpott – The Grass is Always Greener

Tippi Wieland – Why Don’t we Appreciate What We’ve Got Until it’s Gone?

Mia Andrews – Victims of Fashion

Charlotte Woolf – The Impact of Music

Senior – Years 11 and 12

Zac Corcoran – The Media

Alexi Cross – Fear of Public Speaking

Alexandra Fairfield-Smith – Group Projects

Congratulations to all the students who participated in this year’s Maria Kisich competition. The division winners were as follows: 

Senior – Alexandra Fairfield-Smith 

Intermediate – Emily Willsmer 

Junior – Georgette Philpott

Upper Primary – Ruby Kite  

The People’s Choice Award 

Carried over from the virtual event last year, audience members could vote for their favourite speech after each category. This was conducted via ballot in-person and via polls online. The 2021 People’s Choice Award for each category were as follows:  

Senior – Alexandra Fairfield-Smith

Intermediate – Emily Willsmer 

Junior – Jack Miners and Georgette Philpott 

Upper Primary – Eliza Peake 

Of this year’s competition, Head of Faculty – English and Creative Arts, and event co-coordinator, Catherine Batson, said, “It’s always encouraging to see students empowered by public speaking. We were reminded yet again this year of the courage some of these students draw upon to stand up and speak in front of others, using their voice to inform and entertain their audience. We were really pleased to have the opportunity for staff, students, family and friends to attend Maria Kisich live this year or view from the comfort of their own home. Congratulations to all students who presented and thank you to staff and family members for their ongoing support with this valuable event.”

Thank you! 

Congratulations to our students and a sincere thanks to the staff members who provided this experience: Ms Anne Jones and Mrs Cath Batson as our organisers, external judges, Miss Jo Windeatt and Miss Renee Connor, Mr Craig Moore and Mr Isaac Thompson, each with technology support, not to mention classroom teachers assisting in the preparation. Without these people, the opportunity would not exist. Well done and congratulations to all students once again.