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Rhea – From ‘mouth champ’ to public speaking champ

Rhea – From ‘mouth champ’ to public speaking champ

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In her early years as a student at the Girls’ High School, Rhea Ollivierre’s mouth would often get her in trouble with the school’s headmistress.

However, ironically, it is that same vocal ability that recently helped her to bring home the top accolade at this year’s Lions Club South/FLOW Secondary Schools Public Speaking competition – ending a 10-year stretch since the school last won it.{{more}}

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT last Thursday, November 17, Rhea admitted that she was not always the model student that she is today; and her transformation was largely due to the patience and guidance of her headmistress, Andrea Bowman.

“I experienced some mishaps along the way. I’d get in trouble for this mouth right here; for being a little too vocal about the things that I find to say,” she explained.

“I came in this office (theheadmistress’s office) for those very reasons. I actually grew from them; I learnt from my mistakes.”

She said that although her relationship with Bowman may have started out rockily, it has vastly improved, and she hopes it continues to blossom.

“She has helped me to understand that there are certain times in life you just need to keep it shut. I learned from it.”

The 16-year-old said that for as long as she can remember, she has always wanted to take part in the public speaking competition, and to have helped bring back the Michael DeFreitas Challenge Trophy to the GHS after so long is “amazing”.

Thanking all the persons who helped her achieve this victory, she said: “I feel accomplished, because it was definitely something that deserved my time and effort, and I did my very best. I am very proud of myself!”

Rhea, who lives in Glen and is the daughter of Shara Haynes, said that on the day of the competition (November 16), she was “quite anxious”, so she employed calming techniques to help her stay focused on the task ahead.

And it certainly paid off, as she won the main category topic ‘The recently enacted Cybercrime Act, with all its virtues, can suppress fundamental rights and freedoms’ and scored the most overall points to bag herself a two-year $1,600 per year scholarship, and a $3,000 project fund for her school.

GHS headmistress Andrea Bowman expressed her pleasure not only in having one of her students win this year’s competition, but also in how much Rhea has developed and grown as a person.

“What I’ve noticed about Rhea from little is her ability to reason… She likes to make a point, defend her point,” explained Bowman.

The GHS headmistress noted that although she would “levy the relevant penalties” against Rhea when she would fall afoul of school rules, her approach with the 16-year-old was always one of patience and trying to get her to see reason in each situation.

“I’m really pleased with what I am seeing here now. She has really done well!”

Rhianna Thomas last won this competition in 2006 for the GHS. The year before that, Jo-Ann Mar­shall had won, representing the all-girls school. In 2007 and 2015, the GHS’s representatives did not make it to the finals.

Rhea, a student of Form 5 Integrated, said that she is determined to pursue a career in law. With her firm grasp of the English language, her attention to detail, and a willingness to debate a point in the hopes of persuading someone to see things from her view, she is surely on the right path.

“I’ve always been told by my peers that I would make a good lawyer,” she chuckled.

“It always intrigued me to have the public forum to say what you felt from the heart… You grab the audience’s attention and they listen to you!”

Apart from excelling academically, Rhea is also involved in the Girl Guides, and is a sports enthusiast – playing netball and volleyball. (JSV)

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