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When the fifth grader stepped up to the podium in Doc Wilson Hall to talk about endangered animals, her classmates could feel her enthusiasm. “I’m a big animal person and it meant a lot to me,” she said.
Michaela Boller’s humanities students tackled some thought-provoking topics, ranging from water pollution and homelessness to social media, as part of their unit on public speaking. It was an assignment that included researching and writing a speech that answered the question: How can I help?
“They picked something they were passionate about, asked insightful questions along the way, and gave it their all when presenting their speeches,” Boller explained.
Bibliophile Julian Atkins ’30 offered his sage advice on the importance of reading: “Don't think of reading as a chore, and make it feel like a reward.”
Future aerospace engineer Eli Goldfine ’30 chose a topic that has been near to his heart since he was 5 years old: NASA’s priorities and budget. “I found two committees that work on it at the federal level in the House and Senate and explained that you can contact a representative on these committees or a senator to make a difference,” he said.
Inspired by her mother’s career, Maya Iannaccone ’30 spoke about the use of green architecture. “I learned about helping to get rid of greenhouse gases when constructing a building and using different kinds of materials like bamboo and concrete,” she explained.
As the students worked through the challenges of researching their subject matter, Boller had them also practice SPATE, an acronym for stance, pace, articulation, tone and eye contact. “Researching was hard, but it was also hard to maintain good posture and keep eye contact during the whole speech,” Atkins shared.
Practicing SPATE was important but Boller was most proud of how her young public speakers encouraged one another.
“I was the last person to go and saw that every time someone got up to do their speech everyone was clapping, cheering and wishing them good luck,” Iannaccone said. “So it brought my hopes up that I was going to do well, too.”