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Meet Grand Finalist Alegria Benaim

11 Nov 2021

In 2020 Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! Grand Final took to the airwaves – for the first time ever we broadcast around the world from a London film studio via YouTube. All but a handful of last year’s finalists shared their messages at digital events rather than live on stage. But things have changed and we are thrilled that this year the Grand Final will return to its home in the heart of London’s West End, the Cambridge Theatre on Monday 29th November. The count down is on!

More than 20,000 year 10 students from state schools in London and Essex took part in the “Speak Out” Challenge! this academic year, just fifteen students have become 2021 Grand Finalists.

All of this year’s finalists are Digital Champions whose pre-recorded speeches were broadcast as Zoom webinars to an audience of friends, families, teachers, the finalists themselves and of course, a panel of esteemed judges.

In no particular order, meet Grand Finalist Alegria Benaim!

Her speech ‘My Name is Alegria’, earned her and her school, Hasmonean High School for Girls, London, first place in her Digital Final in February. Alegria settles herself and her audience with a warm smile which she carries throughout. She uses her voice well, showing excellent vocal variety as well as excellent pacing as she shares her experience of having an atypical first name.

We asked Alegria, what is your favourite saying or quote and why?

“Don’t compare yourself to others, the sun and moon both shine, just each at their own time. Healthy and fantastic way to live as comparisons are odious.”

Why do you think it’s important for young people, like you, to share their stories?

The lives of young people today are shared in snippets; Snapchat photos, Instagram posts and WhatsApp messages, making it difficult to express ourselves authentically and to share how we really think and feel. Life is not lived properly if we don’t truly understand others and are not properly understood. Sharing our stories enables us to connect, inspire and be inspired.

And, if you could make one change in the world what would it be?

There should be less emphasis on grades and more on learning for the love of learning. Research shows that prioritising good grades over anything else limits our ability to learn. It discourages academic risk-taking, creativity and engagement. As a result, students lose their desire to learn. Instead, their motivation becomes solely to get through the next assignment or the next test.

Watch her speech now.