Calgary STS Student Wins A First Place at World Speech Competition

A Grade 11 Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) student has brought home a first place after competing in the 2015 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC) in Hong Kong – representing her school and Canada at the prestigious event that saw 117 competitors from 12 countries around the world.

Imaan Kherani, from Calgary, won by qualifying for the Grand Finals, in which the two top competitors performed in front of an audience of 1500 people and a panel of 11 judges, in the category of Interpretive Reading, where students read a piece of literature (poem or excerpt from a novel or short story) and use their voice to convey the mood and emotion to draw the audience in.

STS teacher and Imaan’s speech coach, Ms. Jennifer Conway, said, “Imaan transformed herself so convincingly for her piece you could have heard a pin drop in the massive theatre. She was an outstanding ambassador for STS and Canada.  Her poise, maturity and confidence are well beyond her years.”

Of her win, Imaan said, “Representing Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School and Canada at the 2015 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in Hong Kong was an incredible honour. It was truly a privilege to engage with and learn from such leading and passionate students from around the world at this competition. Winning the Interpretative Reading category was a gift; it has highlighted and taught me the importance of dedication, diligence and the unwavering pursuit of excellence in all that you do. I could not have done this without the immense support from my family, the School and especially, my STS speech teachers, Ms. Jennifer Conway and Mr. Lennard Fink and Ms. Jennifer Orr from the Royal Conservatory.”

Imaan also made it to the top nine for the finals in After Dinner speaking.  She qualified for the world speech championship last October at the International Independent School Public Speaking Competition (IISPSC), which also took place in Hong Kong, placing fourth overall and earning the St. Margaret’s Trophy as Top Competitor under 16 years of age.

Speech and debate are original pillars of the STS founding schools and deeply rooted in its history and culture. The School believes strongly in the importance of preparing students to be confident speakers, empowering them with 21st Century skills, which will serve them in the future as well-balanced students leading lives of purpose.

The speech program at STS begins in Elementary school and continues through Grade 12. Speech is incorporated regularly into Language Arts and is integrated into all classes throughout the year. Students in Grades 4 and beyond all participate in an annual Speech Day, regularly emcee events and assemblies and can choose to join extra-curricular speech and debate programs. Grades 5 and 6 are offered a lunchtime speech club. Grades 7 through 12 can participate in the extra-curricular Speech and Debate Program which encourages over 60 students per year to prepare speeches and present them in competitions throughout the fall and winter. This is where Imaan honed her craft and developed her exceptional speaking skills.

This commitment, experience and involvement has led STS to have strong representation at the WIDPSC in recent years, including: Elspeth Yates in 2014 achieved fifth, Ariella Karmel in 2013 finished in the top 20s, Ali Poonja in 2012 came third and Easton Sheehan-Lee in 2010 finished fifth.  Students can qualify for Worlds at the Senior Canadian National Public Speaking Championships or the IISPSC.