A SOLIHULL student won second place in the regional final of a coveted public speaking award.
Crystal Donaldson wrote an inspiring speech about education for the Speakers Trust “Speak Out” Challenge – Midlands Regional Final.
The year 10 student at Grace Academy in Chapelhouse Road, Chelmsley Wood, competed against 14 finalists selected after workshops in 17 schools across the West Midlands.
Judges praised her for her emotive and engaging perspective of the challenges students face during their GCSEs.
Crystal said: “I felt a huge amount of pressure when I prepared the speech: I alone would be representing my school.
“I chose the topic of education because it is the most important thing in my life.
“I felt like the message was crucial- something that everyone has to know.
“I am delighted that my speech won second place; I am extremely grateful for a platform to share my thoughts on the subject of education.
“Some people have to walk three hours to get to school every day and we don’t realise how precious education is.
“Education can’t be stolen and is the key to success. Education is knowledge and knowledge is power.”
The “Speak Out” Challenge is a notable youth speaking event, involving over 22,000 students across the country.
Over 1,300 year 10 students in state secondary schools across the West Midlands received a one-day public speaking and communications training workshop.
During the course, students were given the skills and the confidence to develop and deliver a speech on a topic that is important to them and shares a positive message.
They were judged based on content, structure and their delivery.
Jo Bowers from Birmingham City University, is senior officer of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme – a scheme to encourage underprivileged young people to pursue university.
She said: “Crystal Donaldson’s speech was extraordinarily motivational regarding the power of education and I commented at the time that her speech should have been recorded and sent out to every school in the country.
“She won second place in a hotly contested final and should be extremely proud of herself.”
Crystal’s teacher, Olaide Akindele, said: “Crystal really did engage with the programme and has worked to overcome real adversity.
“This achievement is indicative of her attitude to school, she works really hard and is a pleasure to teach.”