The Salons de la Présidence du Conseil Départemental in Angers formed the backdrop for the competition. Twelve finalists aged between 16 and 17 years delivered their four minute long speeches in English in front of an audience of over one hundred parents, friends, teachers and invited guests.
The twelve candidates were all winners of heats that had taken place within six participating schools: the Lycées Ste. Agnès, Joachim du Bellay, Sacré Coeur and St. Martin in Angers, the Lycée St. Louis in Saumur, and the Lycée Jacques Prévert in Taverny, Val d’Oise. Together they represented an estimated 150 students who had been preparing for the competition since September.
The Conseil Départemental, which had most kindly made the rooms available to us, was represented by Mme. Frédérique Drouet d’Aubigny who opened the proceedings. The Vice-Chairman of ESU France, until recently President of the International Council of the ESU, Lucia Dumont, then explained the importance of the competition in the annual calendar of the association, bringing together over fifty young people from all over the world for the International Finals which take place in London in May. The Chairman of the Bibliothèque Anglophone in Angers, Marie-France Roland, then welcomed the candidates, judges and audience.
The judging panel was composed of Frédéric Chotard, Lucia Dumont, and Jerôme Woodford.
ESU members, Roy and Yolande Powell, were chairman and timekeeper respectively. Roy explained the rules and format of the competition in French and in English before introducing each candidate who spoke on the theme: “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent It”.
The standard this year was high and the competition was fierce. All candidates spoke with confidence on their chosen subject and gave thoughtful replies to the judges’ questions. The winner of the competition this year, Laure Chabenat, is a pupil at the Lycée St. Louis in Saumur. In second place was Laurine Vinçon representing the Lycée Sacré Coeur in Angers, and in third place, Laure Traczyk from the Lycée St. Martin in Angers. Following the announcement of the winners each candidate was awarded a certificate and several books most generously donated by the publishing house, Éditions Maison des Langues in Paris. Jean-Marc Minier, Chairman of the Maison de l’Europe Angers et Maine et Loire, thanked the candidates, the judges, the organizers and the audience for their contributions to a rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.