By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
At the 11th annual Midwest Chinese Speech Contest held by the Midwest Chinese Teacher Alliance, students at Philips Murray School brought home three gold medals to the school at 5335 S. Kenwood Ave.
Giselle Winters, Olivia Alexander, both second graders, and Sanii Taylor, a seventh grader, were excited to find out they won gold medals for speeches that they practiced with their teacher Bing Ni.
“This is my first time actually winning something in a competition. I feel so happy for my success in this,” said Alexander.
Two to three times a week for over a month, Ni and her students stayed after school for an hour to perfect their speeches and hand gestures.
“I have very high standards as a native speaker, so we practiced a lot,” Ni explained. “I asked them to say each word very clearly and made sure that they memorized what they had to say and gestured that they needed to.
“They only learned Mandarin for a year-and-a-half, and they did very well. I’m very proud. They are the top students in my second and seventh-grade classes.”
This year’s contest did not take place at an auditorium, students had to submit videos of their speeches online before spring break. Taylor, Winters and Alexander performed their speeches during class. Instead of speaking in front of unfamiliar faces, but their classmates were their audience.
Each of the students was nervous during the speech, but they were glad that they had the opportunity to participate in the contest, “I feel happy and excited that I got the chance to do this and that I did so well in it,” said Taylor.
Winters, Taylor and Alexander said that they will continue their studies in Mandarin. Ni hopes that her students’ success will help other students studying another language at Murray to continue their studies.
“Since we are a world language school, it is a big step for us to win this competition. It’s a huge confidence boost for our students going next year, we can say ‘see our students earned such a huge success, you guys can do it too.’,” said Ni “They are role models for other Mandarin or Spanish and French students to do more in the future.”