Sydenham High’s Alex wins through to GDST debating final

Sydenham High GDST Year 11 debater Alex Lindsay has won a place in the final of the GDST Chrystall Prize debating competition, after a close fought semi-final held at the school.

The Chrystall Prize is an annual public speaking event for Year 11 students, held in memory of Chrystall Carter who was Legal Adviser to the Girls’ Day School Trust for nine years until her untimely death in 1999.  It was set up by her husband to mark her commitment to the girls, her pleasure in their success and her belief in the power of reasoned argument.

Contestants have to speak for a maximum of seven minutes with an additional three minutes of questions and are judged on their understanding of the subject matter, their ability to engage with their audience and their skill at dealing with questions.

Alex was up against tough competition from top debaters from three other South London GDST schools: Bromley High, Croydon High and Blackheath High. However, her confident, passionate delivery and her ability to handle difficult questions from the audience eventually won the day with the judges.

The last to present, Alex’s speech “What does it mean to be British in the 21st century?” was delivered with clarity and professionalism. She was the only speaker to fluently deliver her presentation without the use of notes – an impressive achievement.

A delighted Alex said: “This was an amazing opportunity which I’ve wanted to be part of since I was in Year 9. I’m really looking forward to the exciting experience of the finals.”

All schools put forward their top Year 11 debaters who attended the event with their support team of writers and researchers.  Alex’s team comprised: Vanessa Mabelle, Maya Tandoh, Maddy Telford and Aine Thomas.

The judging panel comprised: Newsquest journalist Diana Jarvis, who co-ordinators the media group’s Young Reporter scheme; stage and screen actor Nick Sidi and acting coach Daniel Cane.

Danielle Feehan, Head of English, said: “Debate and public speaking skills are enormously important in shaping the confidence of young people, providing excellent understanding of presentation skills whilst challenging and extending their understanding of wider social issues.”

Congratulating Alex, Headteacher Kathryn Pullen said: “Alex is one of our most accomplished debaters and we’re delighted to see her going through to the final of this competition to represent the school. The power to communicate and make a clear argument are key skills that help our girls stand out as they prepare for life at university and beyond.”

The Chrystall Prize final will take place at Notting Hill & Ealing High School GDST on Friday 11 March 2016.