Monday, September 18, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Maison’s Not Clowning Around When It Comes To Public Speaking

The winner of August 2023’s Pioneer Valley Primary Schools’ Public Speaking Competition was Maison Smith from Walkerston State School, presenting his chosen topic which he titled ‘Clowning Around is Not Fun’.

August 2023 is the eighteenth year of this competition which was initiated by the Rotary Club of Walkerston in 2007 as one of the club’s literacy projects.

The winner in that first year of the competition was Matthew Gakowski from Dow’s Creek State School; one wonders where he is now some 17 years later? Dow’s Creek School was closed at the end of the 2008 school year, which at the time had just 12 pupils.

Many of the smaller schools have, over the years, sadly, closed down.                                       In 2007, the first year of the competition there were students from 12 schools taking part. This year, 2023, there was six schools represented.

Pioneer Valley Schools, in the Mackay area that have taken part in the competition over the years include – Dow’s Creek State School, Brightley State School, North Eton State School, Eton State School, Oakenden State School, Homebush State School, Gargett State School, Septimus State School, Finch Hatton State School, Mirani State School, Marian State School, Walkerston State School and St John’s Catholic Primary School at Walkerston.

The young people each speak on their chosen subject for three minutes. During the early years Walkerston Rotary Club members were adjudicators, timekeepers and also involved with school staff in organising the grand finale event which was then held at Walkerston State School.

Today the event is organised by teachers from a couple of the schools taking part,  liaising  with Mirani High School where it is held in the school auditorium. High School teachers make up the judging panel, but Walkerston Rotary is still responsible for the trophy presentation and all that it involves.

The students seem to be getting better every year! Each year it has been a delightful experience to attend the Final of the Speaking Competition presentations. It is quite magnificent to see the young participants get out there in front of an audience and speak so well, as it is undoubtedly not an easy task.

Many huge congratulations to each and every student who has taken part over the seventeen years of the competition – also to their support crews of teachers, parents, families, and friends.

It has been quite an amazing Walkerston Rotary literacy project for seventeen years, and still going – who would have thought!

Contributed by Bente McDonald, Walkerston Rotary

The speaking competition winner representing Walkerston State School - Maison Smith, with teacher Dee Acutt. Photos supplied

Competitors from the Pioneer Valley Primary Schools’ Public Speaking Competition, with Walkerston Rotary representatives and adjudicators

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