Victory At The Citywide Soapbox Competition


Samuel Ferguson

Chicago teens from high schools in various neighborhoods got the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions during the citywide Soapbox competition at Jones College Prep on November 21, 2015.

For many weeks, PMA students crafted speeches that evolved around a topic they wanted to discuss. After finalizing their speeches, they presented them to prominent figures such as Colonel Kelley and Alderman Burke. The presentation of the students’ speeches in the classroom competition would later determine if they would compete in the citywide Soapbox competition at Jones.

“My topic was about the current Illinois education budget crisis and the effect it has on our teachers and class sizes,” said senior Anthony Labrado.

Out of the many senior cadets who participated in the classroom Soapbox competition, Labrado was one out of the few cadets who were chosen to take part in the citywide competition.

“While giving my speech, I made sure it was conducive enough to interact with the audience because I knew that I would be speaking to teachers and students who found the topic of my speech meaningful to them. Including the audience in my speech was a very crucial and impactful strategy,” said Labrado.

Labrado won second place overall in the competition, but he could not have done it without the constructive criticism of Mr. Waller, PMA’s top English teacher.  

“We revised his speech to identify many of the facts and statistics he used that we thought would advance his argument. We also focused in on the delivery of his speech, not only just the tone of his voice but how he used his volume as well as his gestures,” said Mr. Waller.

Alongside Labrado, senior Maria Ocampo was also one of the PMA cadets who participated in the citywide competition.

“My overall experience in the Soapbox competition was amazing. I am a very quiet person, so delivering a speech to an auditorium full of people was a bit scary,” said Ocampo.

Out of the 180 students who competed in the competition at Jones, Ocampo was one of the finalists whose Soapbox speech ranked in the top ten.
“Making it to the final round showed me that you can always overcome your fears with self-motivation and motivation from close friends. Now, I enjoy public speaking,” said Ocampo.