Shailee Desai, a Wyoming Seminary freshman from Shavertown, won the school’s 2018 Oratorical Contest held recently on the Upper School campus. In her speech she described the outcome of the O. J. Simpson murder trial as an example of how many people tend to rely on their personal judgements and outside influences, rather than facts, when making decisions and reaching verdicts in trials.
Juniors Sophia Guichardan of Drums and Philip Ouellette of Dallas also competed in the contest. Guichardan discussed the effect of subliminal messaging on people of all ages and how the messages can escape detection while remaining effective. Ouellette described a microscopic organism called the tardigrade, or “water bear,” which lives all over the world and can survive the harshest environments.
The three students were chosen as finalists from a field of 11 students who responded to the invitation to prepare 10-minute persuasive speeches under the direction of Ivy Miller, Wyoming Seminary director of libraries and public speaking teacher. A team of faculty judges scored the students on their delivery, stage presence, logic in argumentation and strength of supportive evidence.
Sem has held the Oratorical Contest for more than one hundred years. The annual competition tests students’ abilities to research and argue an issue with reason and conviction.