Public Speakers With a Powerful Message

Take the podium as “a power for good.” That’s what middle school teacher Michaela Boller’s fifth grade students did as they presented speeches that answered the question: “How can I help?”

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As their public speaking unit wrapped up before spring break, students chose a variety of timely topics to lend their voices to, including homelessness, racism, endangered animals and plastic pollution, among others. 

The fifth graders learned to research, write and present a speech in response to a graduation keynote given by Harvard University Education Dean James Ryan in 2016. In it, Ryan talked about the five essential questions in life; “How can I help?” is one of them.

“I am beyond impressed with how quickly the students picked brave and bold topics that they were passionate about and how they proudly delivered their speeches at the podium!” Boller exclaimed.
Saliyaah Diouf ’28 put all her energy into LGBTQ+ rights, a subject she wanted to learn more about. Sharing her compassion for this community came easily, but the brainstorming was more difficult: “I had to do some serious research,” she explained.

The value of exercise was at the core of a speech by Emmanuel Diamantakis ’28. “First of all, I learned a bunch of new types of training, like aerobic training, that I can add to my training,” he said. “I also learned that while some of my friends like to exercise, they don’t really know how it’s important.”

While speaking about “harmful ideas that get spread through the media” was important to Viviana Rolston ’28, she noted that “I do not do that well with talking in front of people.” Despite her apprehension, she accepted the personal challenge with aplomb: “It makes me a bit nervous, but it's still fun!”

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