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Seniors Inspire Community at Public-Speaking Contest
Ashley Taube

In an event revered as the kickoff to Commencement activities, a select group of seniors stole the stage last week, captivating the audience with their narratives. The Senior Public-Speaking Contest brought out the best of the Class of 2024 in the DuBois Theatre, imprinting their words on the hearts of the community that will bid them farewell as they graduate Thursday. Before leaving, they took to sharing just a little bit more about themselves, hoping another student could resonate with their experience.

“Once again, the senior speakers displayed an inspiring combination of close observation, narrative structure and polish as they reflected on their own lives and those of others through topics that ranged in scope from how to approach one’s choice of ice cream to the challenges of living in two distinctly different cultures,” English department chair and contest organizer Jim Moore, Hon. ’93 said.

One by one, the seniors took to the stage, elected to represent their English class by their peers and teacher. The contest, a quintessential Blair rite of passage, offers students a platform to practice core skills they will need as they look to continue their journey after graduation: projection, pacing, enunciation and reading the audience. Preparations for the speeches begin earlier in the year, teaching the art of brevity and drafting a speech that accurately conveys your final thoughts leading up to Commencement.

“Public speaking is a risky venture for even the most experienced speaker, so it poses a substantial challenge for many of our students,” veteran English teacher Bob Brandwood explained. “What is always surprising and gratifying is just how well our students step up to that challenge, producing interesting, thoughtful and compelling statements of their beliefs, experiences or opinions.”

No two speeches were alike, and in the end, Kady Seck ’24 was awarded first place for her narrative detailing how spending her afternoons at her mom’s job in a salon helped shape who she is today. Richard Li ’24 and Eric Ihekwaba ’24 secured second and third place, respectively, and Mr. Moore commended all speakers for putting their best foot forward.

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