The Busselton Freemasons became the first town outside Perth to take up an invitation from Grand Lodge to conduct the inter-school's competition the Speak-up award.
Despite the trepidation in taking on the task the event succeeded beyond everyone's expectation vindicating a year of planning and leadership of Right Wor. Bro. Wayne Malkin of the Naturaliste Lodge.
Eight South-West schools applied to compete including Boyup Brook Primary School, Vasse Primary, West Busselton Primary, Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, Bunbury's St Brigids Primary, Busselton's St Mary MacKillop College and Parkfield Bunbury Primary.
More than 50 students accompanied by their teachers and parents made the trip to Perth. Of this number Boyup Brook sent more than 20 students.
The Bridgetown Freemason's Lodge and the Lions club of the town hired a bus on a 50/50 basis that enabled the students to come to Busselton to support their team.
Each school provided a team of three with each student to present a subject of their own choosing researching, writing and then presenting a four-minute speech for adjudication.
A three-man adjudication panel was selected from various lodges in the South West comprising Charles Burking, John LaMancusa and Tom Oversby. Peter Watts was the time keeper while Eliot Fischer chaired the competition.
The students were selected from years five and six and their subjects included diverse topics such as The Titanic, Chernoble. The Afghan Wars, Food, Dancing, Refugees in Australia, The Great Pacific Garbage Dump and Beaching Whales.
Adjudicator John LaMancusa said the quality of the presentations was remarkable and it was a privilege to hear such mature reasonings.
Gradings were not made public, but on reviewing the marks it was clear that all students made a big impression on the adjudicators and the general consensus was that they were a credit to their schools.
The aim was to find the best six presentations to provide an opportunity for the students to qualify for the state "Speak-up" award competition in Perth later in the year.
The top six were quickly apparent with only a small handful of points separating the final group.
- Henry Simpson (Boyup Brook). Subject: Smoking
- Mitchell Binning (Georgiana Molloy), Subject: Cake what a crock
- Sienna Trainer (Georgiana Molloy) Subject: Cruelty against Vegetables
- Amber Knight (Vasse). Subject: Wave Hill Walk Off
- Keely Rosa (West Busselton) Subject: Bullying
- Orla Olson (St Brigids). Subject: Uluru.
"I want to thank everyone associated with this inaugural event, especially the students, teachers and parents who made it such a success," said Wayne Malkin.
"I am confident this can become an annual event and that this success will encourage more schools in the South West to participate in future".
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was great to see primary school students from across the South-West come together to speak on a wide range of meaningful topic.
"I am delighted this has been brought to the region by the Busselton Freemasons," she said.
"The School Speak Up awards is a fantastic initiative and learning experience providing the students with an opportunity to develop their research and public speaking skills.
"Congratulations to the six finalists and to all who competed, and to the Busselton Freemasons for organising this inaugural event."