Senior’s speech succeeds

Sophie Byvik, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Imogen Sherrit tied for first place in the Rotary Club’s annual speech contest on Feb. 21. The yearly competition invites high school students around the county to write, memorize, and perform a speech, generally about a community topic, to the Warrenton branch of the Rotary Club. Sherrit was more than surprised at her first-place tie.
“I was considering it an achievement if I even memorized the whole thing,” Sherrit said. “Especially since we didn’t hear the other contestant’s speeches, [the competition] was daunting.”
According to sponsor and English teacher Julie Duggan, Sherrit entered the contest to battle her phobia of public speaking. A presentation on her Scottish hometown in Duggan’s English class awakened Sherrit to her abilities in public speaking, and she was the only student to follow through when Duggan offered the Rotary Club’s prompt in class.
“She wrote it, and I just provided some editorial feedback with [student teacher] Jana Patterson,” Duggan said. “We went through several rounds of that, and I was pretty amazed because we were still making little changes when Imogen had entered the practice phase of memorizing her speech.”
Prompted by the theme of “peace through service,” Sherrit constructed the speech around her own experience and perspective.
“Even though there are people who are really, really dedicated to service to others, it’s just the small things that count,” Sherrit said. “Sometimes you don’t always have the time and money for service, and by chain reaction, those little things benefit a lot of people.”
Duggan was thrilled when Sherritt tied for first place.
“She just wasn’t expecting to win,” Duggan said. “Walking out of that room with a $250 check was just a gift. It fell out of the sky for her.”
Because contestants in both Fauquier and Orange Counties tied for first place, the four winners from the two counties are all participating in the area contest held on March 21. Sherrit feels more prepared for this second round of competition.
“I’m pretty comfortable now I know I can do it,” Sherrit said. “I think it helps that [the speech] is memorized – I don’t need to make anything up on the spot. I just need to deliver it calmly.”