And the Winners Are…

Nineteen finalists competed in this year’s Fourth Form Public Speaking Contest held April 29 in Werner Centennial Center. Kudos to Mike Basich who earned first place and Lauren Levinson who was awarded honorable mention.
The competition was the culmination of the work Fourth Formers completed in the Speech Writing and Public Speaking course that they took during the winter and part of the spring trimesters. Each student selected a topic of their choosing and then was asked to relate it to one of the themes from their civic engagement course last fall. Examples included references to Plato’s Cave and “seeing the awesome in the ordinary.” The speech must be appropriate in subject, content and tone and should reflect a respect for others, for the process, for the course, for the school and for the greater community, according to Todd Eckerson P’09,’11,’17,’21, who teaches the course.
Students prepared an original, persuasive speech that they presented to their class section. Following this round of competition, students from each section were selected by their teacher and teaching assistants to be finalists in the competition. This year’s contest was attended by Third Formers, Fourth Formers and faculty members.
Third Formers attending the contest get a preview of what will be expected of them next year. “The hope is that Third Formers will both get excited to take the course and be inspired to create their own memorable speeches,” Eckerson said.
Co-teachers and teaching assistants are essential to the students’ success. They provide one-to-
one assistance at each stage of the process by helping students brainstorm for ideas, diagram their speeches and practice the delivery of their orations.
Basich’s winning speech played off the mantra “Just Do It.” He opened his speech by imagining himself holding the ball in the final countdown in a tightly scored football game: “It’s the fourth quarter, 15 seconds on the clock. The team is down 75 to 76. Game Seven. The ball is in my hand, I’m laser focused.”
Then, his alarm wakes him.
“My phone buzzes me awake under the pillow at 7:58 a.m. I consider every possible reality on how I can skip school today. Eventually I have to get up. Crawling out of bed, I look in the mirror. This is when we are tempted, we must rewire our brain to JUST DO IT.”
Lauren Levinson’s speech was about perseverance and was based on her experience learning to ride a bike at age 13. “As cheesy as this sounds, I learned something other than what gears to use to go uphill. I learned the skill of perseverance,” she said in her speech.
Levinson said the class and the public speaking contest has helped her not only in classroom discussions but in other areas of her life.
“Through Mr. Eckerson’s class I learned not only how to present myself in class discussions, but also how to carry his lessons out into my own daily conversations and occasional presentations,” she said. “Having never taken a course like this, I have developed an entirely new interpretation as to what it takes to really make an influence and deliver a speech.”

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