Speakers Forum Hones Public Speaking Skills - Kingswood Oxford

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November 08, 2023

Speakers Forum Hones Public Speaking Skills

Form 4 students participated in an annual tradition at KO this Tuesday, November 7: the Speakers’ Forum Finals, emceed by Bassil Chugtai ’24 and Audrey ’24. As J.K. Rowling notes: “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place,” and five of our sophomores gave us glimpses into other worlds through their interpretive readings. The finalists included First Place: Lia Prahl: The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas; Second Place: Jason Chen: “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu; Third Place: Sam Almeida: The Giver by Lois Lowry; Fourth Place: Leo Kollen: “being human” by Naima Penniman, and Fifth Place: Shreya Adlakha: “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros.



The judges for the finals, Lisa Loeb, Denise Garcia, Greg Scranton, Matt Waldman, and Minnila Muthukumar, rated the interpretative readings on the following criteria: quality and helpfulness of introduction, polish and familiarity with work, understanding of selection, voice quality, diction, literary merit, appeal of selection overall reading.



In order of appearance:


Shreya Adlakha

On her 11th birthday, Rachel, the narrator, wishes to be anything but her age and desires to be 102. In this excerpt, she is embarrassed when her teacher assumes that Rachel owns an old beat-up left in class.



Sam Almeida


The excerpt in this dystopian novel explores the feelings of the narrator, Jonus, who experiences love, family, and warmth for the first time through a memory.


Jason Chen


In this touching piece, a young boy who has distanced himself from his mother finds a letter she had written him about her trials and tribulations as a young girl leaving China. She describes her son’s face as the piece of her family she had loved and lost.

Lia Prahl


This selection lays bare the injustices in our system when a cop stops two Black teenagers in a car for a broken tail light. The narrator has learned from her father to do whatever the cops tell her to avoid escalating violence. Her friend, Khalil, talks back to the cop who shoots Khalil dead.

Leo Kollen


By assigning human characteristics and emotions to nature (waves, sun, shadows), this poem delights in the wonders of the natural world and our connection to it.



Emcees Bassil Chugtai and Audrey Karasik kept the audience entertained between performances with amusing anecdotes, reflections on being a Prefect and Senior Advisor, high school superlatives given to their teachers, and a dramatic reading by Chugtai of Dr. Suess’s Red Fish, Blue Fish.



The Speakers Forus semi-finalist performances were held earlier. The semi-finalists included: Ella Golina, Samit Virmani, Sienna DuBois, Teague Shamleffer, Helen Wang, Marlee Diana, Dylan Thompson, Alexandra Lenarchyk, Lola Peck, Riley Anderson, and Charlie Levin. The judges for the semifinals were Josh Balabuch, Ted Levine, Kathleen McLean, and Andrew LaCroix. 


The Speakers’ Forum was established by the legendary KO teacher Bob Googins, who worked at the school for 42 years as an English teacher, Forensic Union, Mock Trial founder, and sports coach. Googins was described as. “Sincerity and civility reigned supreme in every Forensic Union activity Bob ran…Bob stressed that fifty percent of debating was listening and that while wit and humor were always welcomed seasonings in a speech, there was never any room for flippancy or cruelty.”

Main News

KO and a Cup of Joe – Thursday Mornings throughout the Summer

Join us for a brief information session to learn about the academic and co-curricular offerings at Kingswood Oxford School during the summer: June 20, 27, July 11, 18, 25, August 1, and 8 at 8:30 a.m. in Roberts Building’s lower lobby. For more information, contact our Admissions Office at (860) 727-5000. What a Difference a Day Makes!