I must admit that when I found out about the Calgary Stampede’s Youth Speech and Debate Committee I was quite excited. As a high school student I participated in speech and debate. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything – I gained skills that I’ve taken with me and met so many great people along the way. And I still remember the rush of adrenaline you get when you step on the stage so many years later.
This year’s winner of the Calgary Stampede Youth Speech Competition was Ryan Bickert, a high school student from Webber Academy. I had the chance to watch him deliver his speech at the Calgary Stampede – very impressive! I had the chance to ask him a few questions after his big win:
How did you get involved in Speech?
“Since I was young I have always been interested in the Dramatic Arts, and therefore began searching for new ways to explore my interest. Speech was first presented to me, by my mother, as a way to hone my acting skills and otherwise extend my abilities. Some of my friends, and my older brother were involved and seemed to enjoy it so I went to one of the meetings. I think it was a mixture of competitive spirit, driven both by fellow competitors and my brother, and placing second in my first tournament that started my true interest in Speech.”
What was the best thing about being involved in the Calgary Stampede Youth Speech and Debate Tournament?
“Besides getting an ego boost, I found the people I was able to be around was the best part of the entire tournament. Being given the opportunity to speak to the Stampede community and possibly pass on some nationalistic pride is humbling enough, not to mention getting advice from the head of the ADSA, and meeting our Mayor. I think having won or not those are the moments that I would take away from the tournament.”
Calgary’s beloved mayor, Naheed Nenshi, presented Ryan with his prize for coming in first place! A very exciting moment.
What was your speech topic and how did you choose it?
The tournament was themed meaning our speeches had to “promote and reflect the agricultural and/or historic legacy of Alberta or Western Canada”. That being said it still left a large window of speaking material to choose, from which I chose to focus on agriculture. In my speech I went over the aspects of our daily lives that agriculture effects then spoke about agricultural impacts historically. How I chose to speak about this is even still a mystery to me; however I can say that I chose something that I knew about. I knew agriculture was important both today and in the past and that was the basis of my speech.”
Can you share your favourite line from your speech?
“My favorite line from my speech is the ending sentence, ‘As an Albertan you should be as proud as I am to say agriculture is how we define ourselves.’ I like this line because I believe it left the audience with something to think about, and may have helped encourage some provincial pride.”
What was the best part about the Centennial Stampede celebration this year?
“I certainly enjoyed being able to look out my bedroom window and see fireworks in the distance. However I think the best part of any year at the Stampede are the rides, especially the large yellow and white crane which I’m glad to have ridden for the second time on Sunday.”
What’s your favourite treat on the Stampede midway?
“My favorite snack on the midway has to be deep fried Oreos.”
Mmm … good choice!
Congrats again Ryan! You were a first class speaker and a first class Calgary Stampede participant.