Year 11 pupil Sakshi has come out on top in the Chrystall Prize for Public Speaking Semi-Finals, winning with a moving performance of her speech titled ‘Generation Snowflake’.

The esteemed Chrystall Prize is a yearly GDST competition, bringing together the brightest minds of Year 11 pupils from all GDST schools to voice their opinions on the most prevalent debates in modern society. This year’s list of topics, which competitors choose their speech from, ranged from political events like Britain’s imminent exit from the European Union, opinions like ‘Feminism is going wrong’, and more lighthearted discussions such as ‘How important is your name?’

The competition holds extra meaning for the girls due to its origins. It was set up by the husband of Chrystall Carter, the former GDST Deputy Legal Secretary in her memory, marking her commitment to the girls themselves, her pleasure in their success and her belief in the power of argument.

Sakshi’s speech at Newcastle High School’s regional competition encouraged listeners to reconsider the concept of ‘generation snowflake’ - the derogatory term used to describe the younger generation as too sensitive, emotional and unable to handle criticism.

After covering its origins from the 1996 novel ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk in the quote, “You are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake,” Sakshi goes on to dismiss the argument that the rise in mental health problems and increased exam pressure indicates that youth are ‘weak’ or ‘overly sensitive’. “I would perceive the ability to tell others about your greatest challenges to be a sign of strength,” she says, in reference to the fact that almost five times as many students have disclosed mental illness to their university in comparison with students ten years ago.

Sakshi concludes, “Generation Snowflake is not weak minded, but seems braver and more willing to tackle the biggest problems than any of its predecessors.”

Her drive to compete for the Chrystall Prize is long-standing: she was originally inspired to take part when watching 2017 winner and fellow Sheffield Girls’ pupil Anya Grayson. “She came into our class to perform her speech when I was in Year 9,” she remembers. “I just thought, ‘Wow, I really want to do this,’ so I made sure to sign up when I finally could two years on.

“Because I’m quite an opinionated person, public speaking and the Chrystall Prize means I can get my ideas across about very topical things like prejudice or feminism, which a lot of people have a skewed perception of.”

Sakshi is now preparing to compete at the Final in Portsmouth on 8th March.