Spellman Oratorical Contest Winners for the Class of 2020
Rockland High School English Department Coordinator, Carol Cahill has announced the winners of the 2020 Spellman Oratorical Contest. They are:
1st place: Lara Glennon – $1300
2nd place: Tyler Gambon – $1100
Tied for 3rd & 4th: Sarah McLellan and Ashley Gallagher – $750 each
Tied for 5th and 6th: Kerin Dalton & Neleh Dunn – $300 each.
Ms. Cahill was happy to have been able to coordinate and continue the awarding of the Spellman scholarships under these unusual circumstances. The prize money is made available from a trust established by the late Francis Cardinal Spellman of Whitman in memory of his mother, Ellen Conway Spellman, who resided in Rockland. The judges of this year’s contest, who also judged last year, were Laura Whitaker, Steve Waisgerber and Karen Bonn.
The topic for this year’s contest was devised by AP Literature teacher, Chris Neal of the RHS English Department. It was “Monsters as a Reflection of the Human Experience.” Students who participated discussed the question: “How do literature and other works of art depict monsters, real or imagined, and how do they serve as a reflection of human experience?” After students wrote their speeches and practiced them, they then recorded them on YouTube. Public Speaking and Digital Media teacher Dave Cable-Murphy provided each student with instructions on how to do a good video speech and YouTube presentation.
After Ms. Cahill received and compiled the students’ Youtube submissions, she sent them to each of the three judges. Next, the judges held a zoom meeting and deliberated the merits of each student’s presentation. Speeches are judged on content, delivery, diction and poise.
In her video announcing the results, Ms. Cahill said, “I and the whole English Department were wowed by the results from the six students who entered the contest.” She said that the essays were well written and well thought out and the videos were “fantastic.” Addressing the students she said, “We couldn’t be more proud of the work you have done under these very non-traditional circumstances.”
First place winner, Lara Glennon explained her motivation for entering despite having to do it independently. “I always knew I wanted to compete in the Spellman Oratorical; doing it remotely didn’t change that. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I feel that it’s something I’m good at, so an essay contest was a perfect way to try for a scholarship.”
She admitted that doing it remotely was difficult without being able to “bounce ideas off my classmates and teachers.” But she said, “It was totally worth it.” As far as the process she said, “The prompt was monsters as a reflection of the human experience and I had some ideas immediately after hearing the prompt, so it didn’t take me too long to write the essay. Recording it was the hardest part.”
But doing her speech on video also had an upside. “Since I had the opportunity to send in the perfect take, I didn’t stop until I got it right.” Lara will be attending Emerson in the fall where her scholarship will come in handy!
Tyler Gambon who placed second said, “Preparing and reciting my speech honestly didn’t take that long and I’m glad I could be a part of continuing this valued tradition at RHS despite the circumstances.”
Ashley Gallagher said that writing the speech was “really fun due to the interesting topic of monsters given this year. It took me one night to write and multiple hours of revision to bring it to my standards.” She also said, “The recording portion took me at least 7 hours to bring the video close to my standards.”
Ashley gave credit to her classmates. “Every submission this year was amazing and I am glad I got to compete with them all this year.”
Kerin Dalton commented on the experience as well. “Spellman was definitely an interesting experience this year to say the least. The one nice thing about it was that if I messed up I could just stop the camera and start over. Of course that also turned a six minute speech into an hour and a half video shoot. But it was worth it.”
She too enjoyed writing to the prompt. “English has always been my strong suit. It is usually required for AP students to take part, but since it became optional I knew I had a better chance of placing and earning some easy money, also inclining me to pursue the opportunity.”
She says she is glad that she got to see the other seniors’ speeches on YouTube.
Here are the speeches. The “entrants” were numbered for judging purposes. Congratulations to all of these remarkable seniors!