RATHMORE Grammar School made it a clean sweep when its girls took first, second and third places in finals of the Soroptimist Public Speaking competition in Lisburn.

Soroptimist International is a global women’s organisation which works for peace, and improving the lives of young women and girls throughout the world.

The competition, which featured 19 other pupils from schools throughout the North, was won by Rathmore pupil Brianna Armstrong, who achieved first place with a six-minute speech entitled ‘When women thrive, all society benefits’ – a quote from Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Juliet Hewitt of Rathmore achieved second place, speaking on the topic ‘It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken adults’.

Third place was awarded to Stephanie Abogunrin, also of Rathmore, who spoke on the topic ‘Has the Black Lives Matter movement made us more aware of racism?’

After taking first place, Brianna Armstrong was given an additional challenge of speaking on an unseen topic for two minutes with five minutes preparation time without a mobile phone.

For this Brianna was chosen as the overall winner and received the Soroptimist Youth Award and £200. Brianna was also invited to speak at the North/South Conference of the Soroptimist Society on May 21.

Juliet Hewitt (middle left), Brianna Armstrong (middle right), Stephanie Abogunrin (middle) and Ciara Boyle (far right)

Juliet Hewitt (middle left), Brianna Armstrong (middle right), Stephanie Abogunrin (middle) and Ciara Boyle (far right)

Ciara Boyle, Coordinator of Debating and Public Speaking at Rathmore Grammar School said: “This is an outstanding achievement for our pupils, parents and the entire Rathmore community.

"This achievement is testament to the diligence and commitment of Brianna, Juliet and Stephanie, who have all flourished in the skills of articulation, critical thinking and rebuttal.

"By participating in the Soroptimist Public Speaking competition, our students have remained faithful to the Rathmore mission statement, harnessing the skills of oracy to ensure the life and dignity of all.”