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Aug. 7, 2020 | Friday
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809 Newark Air Cadets speak their minds


Members of the 809 Newark Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron spoke their minds at the Croatian National Centre Wednesday night, as part of the cadet’s annual National Effective Speaking Program. Each year, cadets across Canada participate, with the goal of building self-confidence, organizational and interpersonal skills.

Some of the topics this year included peer pressure among youth, the voting age limit, the history of Avro Arrow aircraft, and what it means to be a Canadian. Cadets could also choose their own topic as long as it was about cadet life, aviation, science and technology, Canadian history or citizenship.

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s squadron Capt. Jody Lemoine said effective speaking used to be a core component of the air cadet training program.

“We still do it. But it’s been moved out of the core training and it’s been taken over by our civilian side sponsorship committee,” he said.

For the first part of the event, speakers had to deliver a five-minute speech on one of the topics provided by the Air Cadet League of Canada.

The second part of the competition included a two-minute impromptu speech on why speakers loved being cadets.

“One of the things that I found about the effective speaking with our cadets is they have a very interesting perspective,” said Lemoine. “They don’t usually speak about their thoughts and how they flow. With effective speaking, they get to pick a topic and unravel their own thinking on it so it’s a glimpse in how they think, how they see things they wouldn’t otherwise get.”

Thomas Forsyth, James Couroux and Shaelynn Lett were announced the winners. They now have a chance to go to the regional competitions and, in case of the win, they can advance to the provincial and national competitions.

The first-place winner Forsyth said he chose to talk about a tactical perspective on the battle of Vimy Ridge after he watched Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old documentary.

The runner-up Couroux decided to talk about the uses and advancements of ballistic body armour.

“It was one that I was really drawn to as liking universes that incorporated specific ballistic armour tactics because that’s a really wide side to choose it,” he said.

Lett, who finished third, said what is a Canadian “was always a topic that stuck out to me the most.”

There were three judges at the event. One of them, Lynn Taylor-Roehm, has been fulfilling this role for three years.

“I’m totally blown away by these kids. I think they show maturity much beyond their age and any self-confidence they’ve developed is terrific,” she said. “And every year they get much more confident, much more knowledgeable. I can’t say enough good things about it.”

For another judge, Louise Leyland, it was a “pleasure” to be there.

“The only thing I would suggest is there should be some award for courage,” she said. “But it was a wonderful event.”

Sandra Ross-Gowans, who’s been in charge of organizing the event, thanked cadets’ parents for bringing their children out and encouraging them to be a part of the effective speaking program.

“It is skills that they’re going to learn and carry on through the rest of their lives,” she said. “I hope that these skills help them, that they will remember the skills that they’ve learned at the effective speaking program. So, thank you for bringing the cadets.”

The squadron’s administration officer Ruxandra Nicolescu told The Lake Report she was proud of cadets.

“Every year they mesmerize us with their speeches,” she said. “I think the themes this year were really something they cared about, they knew about, and they spoke with passion. And with maturity. I’m really very proud of them.”

Neeti Mehrotra, a secretary of the squadron’s sponsorship committee, shared the same sentiment and said it is amazing to see cadets grow up.

“It’s just seeing kids come in at 12 years old, they’re so shy. And within six months, you see them become young adults,” she said.

Retired Flight Lieut. Sam Kingdon agreed the event was great.

“The kids really catch on to it. It makes them a little more confident and that’s great.”