Two girls represented their schools in a regional speech-making contest.
Grace Cleary, a Year 10 pupil at Ormiston Rivers Academy, and Meg Vaughan, from Year 10 at Plume School, competed in the East Essex regional finals of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge.
Grace’s speech, Are We Alone?, explored the topic of other life in the universe.
Meg spoke about views on mental health from the Victorian era until now.
The girls were among 14 pupils from schools across Maldon, Colchester and Tendring to take part, speaking for a maximum of three minutes before a panel of seven judges.
The winner was Lauren Barlow, of Colchester County High School for Girls, speaking on the need to protect youngsters from pro-anorexia websites.