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Our Attitude Determines Our Outcome

We were so stimulated and impressed by the finalists at our Grade 8 English Public Speaking Competition. Our students worked extremely hard to research, write and deliver their speeches with confidence and poise. We are proud to share the first-prize-winning speech from Abby Mandelcorn, who as the judges said, “Took a year-and-a-half and summed it up in three minutes and made us smile.” Mazal Tov to all of our finalists and please enjoy Abby’s speech below:

When I was in Grade 6, I broke my arm. All I remember was the pain, barely soothed by the sips of sweet lemonade I got from the hospital’s Starbucks. I was devastated. But sooner or later, I realized my negative attitude would not help me, and decided I would make the best of my situation. I showed up to school with a backpack on wheels, wrote the EQAO with one hand, and even performed at my dance recital. Sling on my arm. Smile on my face. Like this challenge, COVID has brought to my attention that in life, attitude determines one’s happiness and fulfillment. Parents, teachers, classmates, and judges, when we look at COVID, instead of focusing on the negative, we can challenge ourselves to find some positives, such as technological advancements, improving relationships, and trying new things.

Have you ever felt, “I’m tired of online learning?” “I hardly leave my room.” “I’m constantly staring at a screen.” Wait. STOP! Can we find a silver lining? I think we can! According to Forbes Magazine, online learning has modernized education, allowing for students to learn at their own pace and access expert lecturers around the world. They also found that 85 per cent of parents were impressed by their children’s adaptation to new internet software. Who knew the word “Zoom” would be 2020’s most popular eponym? In 1665, the Great Plague of London forced Isaac Newton’s class out of college for a year! Instead of wasting time, Newton developed his famous theories on calculus, prisms, and gravity! Who knows? Maybe one of YOU will be the next Newton?

Have you ever felt, “I’m stuck in lockdown?” “I miss my friends.” “I have lost my social life.” Wait. STOP! Can we look through rose-coloured glasses? I think we can! Picture life before COVID… Wake up, rush to school, run to dance, eat dinner, do homework, and go to bed. Did I even speak to my family yet? Life felt so hectic and quality family time was rare with kids over-programmed, and parents overloaded. Now picture this, the bell rings, a nice walk home from school to catch up with siblings. Family dinner every night. Board games, movies, and, of course, binge-watching Netflix. More time to relax, connect, and laugh together. The definition of “relationship” is “the way in which people are connected.” I think we can all agree that COVID has given us time to connect with our loved ones at a much deeper level.

Have you ever felt, “I’m so bored at home?” “Everything is closed.” “I have nothing to do.” Wait. STOP! Can we see the glass half-full? I think we can! How many of you have developed a new COVID hobby like baking, gardening, painting, or skating? A study from Medical Economics proves that hobbies enhance quality of life, mental health, and creativity. Personally, I feel like I’ve become a Challah-baking aficionado!

External factors, like COVID, are constantly challenging our minds and it is up to us to choose how we react. Of course, COVID has had a terrible impact on the world, but it has also improved technology, strengthened relationships, and introduced so many new interests. Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl once said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

So, next time life throws you a lemon, sanitize your hands, wash it with antibacterial soap, grab a Starbucks cup, and make some sweet lemonade! 

Thank you.


Abby Mandelcorn

Grade 8 Student