Seniors Impart Words of Wisdom at Public Speaking Contest
Joanne Miceli

The class of 2019 celebrated an important Blair rite of passage on May 13 as the highly anticipated Senior Public Speaking Contest took place in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts. Eleven seniors, one from each section of 12th grade English, stepped up to the podium in DuBois Theatre and eloquently delivered an original five- to seven-minute address. A panel of faculty judges chose the winning speakers, and their names were announced at School Meeting on May 20: Madison Jones ’19 received first prize, Kendrick Ng-Yow ’19 received second prize, and third prize was awarded to Linda Tong ’19.

The individual topics of this year’s speeches varied widely, but each student was given the same assignment: They were to craft a speech that in some way embodied their sense of identity and articulately express that identity in a public setting. Students accomplished this by sharing an interest or goal, revisiting meaningful experiences, speculating on life and more. Each senior delivered his or her speech during English class, and students shared feedback with their teachers on who should advance to the competition.

“The Senior Public Speaking Contest provides a broad valedictory opportunity for seniors and gives them a chance to leave a lasting impression on the School community,” said English department chair Jim Moore, coordinator of this year’s event. He noted that Blair’s curriculum-wide emphasis on public speaking begins freshman year with the Blair Leadership Stories Project and culminates with the Senior Public Speaking Contest. “For most of our seniors, this competition represents their final opportunity before graduation to showcase the public speaking skills they’ve developed over their time at Blair.” 

To watch the winning speeches, please click below:

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Book

Blair’s English department launched its 2019-2020 all-school read program with the selection of Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America, a memoir by free speech activist Zachary R. Wood. Mr. Wood attracted national media attention as president of Uncomfortable Learning, a student-run group at Williams College that invited speakers with controversial perspectives to campus.

Read More about Zachary Wood’s ‘Uncensored’ Is Blair’s 2019 All-School Read