King’s Academy, April 26, 2015 — For the second year in a row the juniors stole the show during King’s Academy’s annual declamation competition, with Jamal Al Hourani ’16 and Aziza Hamidi ’16 named as this year’s all-school winners for their riveting declamations in Arabic and in English respectively.
During the final round of the competition, which took place in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium last Wednesday, the entire community listened and watched in awe as Al Hourani delivered a poetic speech about preserving Arab culture and tradition while Hamidi, who spoke only basic English when she first came to King’s from Afghanistan three years ago, gave a heart-wrenching monologue about what it means to be “collateral damage.”
Senior finalists Natascha Tahabsem ’15 and Laila Mowafi ’15 delivered equally powerful declamations about restoring the once altruistic values of Arabs and maintaining character integrity, which made deliberating over the final decision all the more challenging, according to Faculty Member and event judge Rola Jaber. Also on the judge panel were several other faculty members and students, as well as guest of honor – and mother of Faris Batayneh ’11 – Lina Al Tal.
Recognized primarily for her pioneering efforts in introducing drama into mainstream education in Jordan and for establishing the National Interactive Theater Troupe in 1989, Al Tal – the founder and director of the National Center for Culture and Arts of the King Hussein Foundation – offered a few quick tips for confident public speaking and spoke about the relationship between the performing arts and effective communication.
“The performing arts empower you, they teach you skills in expressing views and ideas, and help you to understand human behavior,” she said. “The sky is not the limit because each and every one of you is unique and has potential, and – with a lot of hard work – can make a difference in the world.”
Before the juniors and seniors went head to head in the final round of the competition, the audience heard from winners of the freshman and sophomore class, who had previously competed against their own grade levels and who, in addition to the finalists, wrote their own declamations.
Ninth grade winners Hamzeh Shahin ’18 (Arabic) and Wael Kanaan ’18 (English) each reflected on a text that deeply inspired them – for Shahin it was a poem (written by the father of Arabs Got Talent finalist Issam Bashiti) about dreams of childhood while Kanaan, moved by Lois Lowry’s The Giver, spoke about the idea of attaining perfection.
Sophomore class winner Saria Samakie ’17 passionately recited a poem about defending the freedom of Arabs (written by revered Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani) while his English counterpart Tiamike Dudley ’17 discussed how to develop and improve one’s identity.
Participants in every grade level wrote original declamations again this year in order to encourage independence, creativity and responsibility, and to help students find their own voices, added Jaber.
“Every single declamation is unique to its author, unique in its idea, unique of how words are put together, and unique in its passion,” she said. “Declamations have not only been a practice to improve public speaking skills, but also an opportunity for students to express their voices by giving themselves the freedom to say things in their own ways.”