In Year 4, Jack Nethery realised he had the gift of the gab. It all started with a speech about turkeys, in particular, why we should not breed them to eat as “they are people too.” Jack recalls the speech being “pretty good for a ten-year-old” and sufficed to crown him Year 4 champion of the SCAS Primary School Public Speaking competition. Now, studying for his HSC, Jack Nethery’s oratory talent has only continued to grow. Within the space of one week, he represented SCAS to bring home wins from both the Rotary Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA) and the Plain English Public Speaking Award competition. Jack now progresses to the National Model United Nations Assembly event held in Canberra and the state semi-final of the Plain English Speaking Award in Sydney.

The golden week for Jack began in Gunnedah for the Model United Nations Assembly where he and fellow Year 12 student, Harry Webb, represented the country Kazakhstan. This assembly was part of the wider international Rotary project to educate senior high school students on the United Nations organisation as well as providing a platform for them to develop their public speaking skills while debating on topical world issues.

“It’s pretty much just a big debate but also on top of that, there are a lot of things that happen in between. For example, there’s a fake gaol where you can get arrested, it was good fun,” explains Jack.

This was the second year that Jack and Harry had participated in the assembly in Gunnedah. The debates again proved topical as they addressed world issues including gender equity, marriage equality and child marriage. However, despite the intensity of the subjects for debate, it was the boys prevailing humour in their representation of Kazakhstan that saw them claim defeat.

“It’s Year 12, we weren’t committing to go too far, but we thought, we are going to go in, be funny and hopefully get people’s choice. That’s what our aim was because we came close last year,” says Jack.

The boys leveraged their research of the socio-political climate of Kazakhstan to create humorous characters for the assembly while at the same time remaining true to the country.

“One of our topics was about saving the Great Barrier Reef and many raised the point that we need to stop mining in Queensland if we want to save it, but our solution was to get lots of boats to move the Great Barrier Reef to Kazakhstan for our tourists,” Jack laughs.

Following on from a successful weekend in Gunnedah, Jack backed up with another win at the Plain English Public Speaking Award Competition. He and School Captain Alexandra Hawes presented an 8-minute prepared speech on a topic of their choice as well as a 3-minute impromptu speech on a topic assigned to them on the day. Jack’s 8-minute speech was inspired by his first ever debate topic ‘in the post-truth world, does the truth still matter?’

“It just stuck with me and I kept on looking into it after that. So, in my speech, I look at how the truth has lost value in today’s society and I question whether there is such a thing as an irrefutable truth,” Jack explains.

The topic posed to Jack and Alexandra for the impromptu category was ‘a perfect storm’. Jack decided to approach this oxymoron with an “organised chaos analogy” and discussed Australia’s current political climate, which he believes to be ‘the perfect storm.’

“I quoted Kanye West as a philosopher and I said we live in a society where we have freedom of speech but not freedom of thought, where we can say what we want but we are attacked for having opinions,” recalls Jack.

Public speaking is a skill that Jack recommends as highly beneficial to students both inside and outside the classroom.

“There are a lot of benefits. It really just improves how you talk in general which is helpful considering pretty much every single year most subjects will ask you to do a speech for a certain assessment. Also, if you are looking to be in the Student Leadership Committee these speaking opportunities really help with that preparation as well as looking good on a resume,” says Jack.

Jack will travel to Sydney later in June to compete in the Plain English Public Speaking Award Competition at the Maiden Theatre in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens. In August, he and Harry will participate in the National Model United Nations Assembly at the House of Representatives in Old Parliament House, Canberra. The SCAS community congratulates Jack on his successes and wishes him the best of luck as he progresses.