After such a year of turbulence and turmoil, it was truly wonderful to see the Speech Hall filled (in a socially distanced manner) with an actual live audience for the return of Dangerous Minds. This is the third year that this unique public speaking competition has been hosted at Cranleigh, and in the words of the Headmaster, the standard of the competition keeps getting better and better.

This year saw a record number of applicants from across all years in the school, making the initial job of selecting seven finalists a very tough task in itself. Each finalist had only eight minutes to persuade the audience of their ‘dangerous’ idea, using only the power of their voice. 

The Tech Team of Libby, Tom and Ned created quite a remarkable setting for Dangerous Minds, going all out with lighting effects, sound and haze, under the watchful eye of Mr Humphries.  The set roared into action, with huge energy bought to the contest by, the previous year’s winner Henrique de S., a man who has been missing the stage immensely in this past year. The perfect host, Henrique reflected on the challenge ahead for the competitors and rightly praised them for having the courage to get up and deliver a speech in front of so many of their peers. 

The competition opened with Robbie M. in his second time as a Dangerous Minds finalist. This year, Robbie took his arguments even further, with a highly articulate talk on the need for the banning of all forms of pornography in society. Using a variety of highly alarming facts on the link between pornography and sexual abuse, Robbie presented a compelling case for urgent reform, citing future dangers that would likely occur if his idea was not soon adopted.

The dangers of technology were the focus of the next talk from Brandon G., as he explained the concept of ‘Nurolink’ to a highly engaged audience, clearly captured by his opening claims to make them more intelligent at the push of a button. It is remarkable to think that Brandon is only in his first year at Cranleigh, given his confidence of delivery and stage presence. He certainly has a very bright future ahead of him in public speaking and debating competitions. 

Naalini B. was next to the red carpet, with her take on the highly controversial topic of gender. In a superbly articulate and powerful speech, Naalini took apart the arguments behind maintaining the status quo on gender before challenging the audience and the school to make a direct stand on leading on this to help improve the mental health and well-being of boys and girls in the future. 

The first half of the show was bought to a close by Rafe F., who painted a highly amusing and alarming picture of his Lower Fifth corridor in Loveday as a way to stress how the format of learning with exams as the end goal is killing all incentives for students to work outside of exam time. Delivered in a humous, dry way, Rafe’s idea for a more progressive and consistent form of learning appraisal was welcomed by the audience and may end up on the desk of a certain Mr Williamson at some point very soon. 

 

Following a short break, the competition welcomed Lucy W. back, not only to the stage, but to the school following a lengthy stint of isolation. Dressed in red, walking on to ‘highway to hell’, Lucy focused her talk on the next major pandemic and argued that the reason for the litany of policy failures in the UK was due to the countries obsession with human rights. Her idea, which had many in the audience startled and alarmed, was to look to more autocratic solutions, with rights taking a back seat in future in order to preserve life.    

On the eve of Cranleigh’s first Eco-Week, the stage was set for Lauren B., a dedicated Vegan, to send shivers down the collective spines of the audience with her talk on the need for individual action to fight climate change. Her talk was exceptionally strong, personalised and the ultimate call to action. Many were seen to sit up and physically react as Lauren highlighted how the majority valued their own lunch over and above the protect of the planet on which they live. 

 

To round the evening off, the Dangerous Minds audience were treated to possibly the most unique performance seen on the Speech Hall stage at Cranleigh. Archie P. used the platform to deliver the most simple idea of the night, but in the most incredibly engaging way, telling the audience the stories he has learnt about his grandparents in Ireland and how that has helped him lead his own life. Archie’s power as a storyteller was quite remarkable, with the audience truly on the edge of their seats through his whole performance. 

The Headmaster has had some tough decisions to make given the events of the past year, so it was only fitting that he was called upon to make an even tougher one in order to decide who would win the Henry Hunt Trophy this year. After much deliberation, the runners up were Naalini and Archie, with the winner being Lauren in her first Dangerous Minds outing. To make this even more special was to see Lauren mobbed by members of her year from Martlet at the end of the event, who had all be avidly watching the competition on the live-stream in house. A worthy champion in quite a remarkable competition.