Students have been required to take a public speaking class in seventh grade for at least the past 15 years.
So four years ago, current Head of the Middle School Ann Sciglimpaglia, also known as Ms. Scig, and science teacher Clay Miles decided to give the students an opportunity to utilize the skills that the students learned in their class.
When Ms. Scig was Co-Form 2 Dean with Mr. Miles, they had a collective idea to begin a tradition of eighth-graders giving a speech on a topic of their choice to the entire Middle School community.
When she became the only Form 2 Dean, she decided to implement the idea. “When the topic of the speech is important to the speaker, it is the most memorable,” Ms. Scig said. ”Typical topics are ones about family members or friends, past experiences, or ones just to make people laugh.”
Ms. Scig said there were many funny speeches, but her favorites were about anything from M&M’s to summer camps, chocolate chip cookies, and dad jokes.
Ms. Scig thought that it was very important that every eighth-grader should have the chance to give a speech. “I think it has become a rite of passage, and I think it’s a great way to show off what they have learned in public speaking,” she said. “I think it’s a great way to show leadership, I think it’s a great way to show community, and a great way to say goodbye to the Middle School.”
Ms. Scig is happy with how it has played out. “I think it has grown over the years to be much more thoughtful and personal,” she said. “Kids would either talk about relatives, sports, and things the kids had done to impress other kids. However eventually the kids figured out that the speech wasn’t about it, it was about them, and they were much more personal and authentic, and when they are personal and authentic, everybody is in on it, and it makes it that much better.”
Eighth-grader Aarav Kumar said he enjoyed the overall experience. “People enjoyed it. However, it did turn out worse than I thought it would be because the video I had set up, the audio and the animation were not in sync,” he said.
Arav came up with his idea because of his love of animation. “I really like watching animation online, and I tried to make it my hobby. When it came time to my eighth grade speech, I decided to do it about something I’m interested in.”
Arav had his idea planned out for a long time.“I had the animation planned out over the summer, but the specifics in the speech were decided later.” Ms. Scig believes giving speeches will remain a very important tradition and a positive experience for eighth-graders for years to come.