“Harsher Penalties should be given to Sex Offenders.” This was the topic debated by fourth form students of the Dr. J.P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School, as the Department of English and Modern Languages hosted the 3rd annual public speaking competition on Wednesday March 11th, 2020. The four competitors, all females, voiced strong views in support of the topic. But it was Ovinceia Browne, representing Form 4 Business, who received the judges’ nod ahead of the others.

Browne, who advocated capital punishment for sex offenders, said in her speech: “I refuse to accept the fact that sex offenders should spend a few years in jail eating well and sleeping comfortably while the victim is at home scared and experiencing depression. In our country there have been too many sexual crimes happening and there is not enough justice for the victims.” Browne also won best impromptu speech. She spoke on the topic: “Poverty is a State of Mind.”

Second place was awarded to Shanika Francois, who was also adjudged to have the best prepared speech. Francois highlighted the fact that victims of sexual offences suffer lifelong physical, mental and emotional consequences while the few offenders who are charged suffer only a fraction of time. She further stressed that “the traumatic effect of sexual offenders on their victims necessitate that all offenders must be brought to justice. They must be punished in a way that deter them from committing such offences.”

Jahliya James placed third while Whitney Richards was fourth.

Head of the English and Modern Languages Department Mrs. Marcia John commended the students, noting that their researching and oral communication skills will be enhanced as a result of participating in the competition. She further stated that students are now required to do an oral presentation as part of the SBA component of the English A CSEC assessment. Public speaking therefore provides an avenue for them to express themselves and become better students of English. Principal Mrs. Suzette Cupid-Ferdinand also congratulated the students for their efforts. She however expressed disappointment that male students have not been participating in public speaking over the years and encouraged them to do so in future.

The judges for the competition were Mr. Earl Bennett, Mrs. Caron Bucchan and Ms. Adriana King. Trophies were awarded to the first, second and third place winners. All participants also received prizes donated by Mr. Steve King Manager of King O’s. Other sponsors included the New Haven Funeral Home, Gaymes Bookstore, Dr. Junior Ackie and The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Cooperative Credit Union.

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