Thursday evening provided the Proctor community an opportunity to hear seven sophomores share speeches during the 20th annual Hay's Speaking Contest. The Winter Term affords all sophomore English classes the opportunity to embark on a speech writing process that explores personal journeys, influential moments, or social commentary using research for support. Tonight, we saw a representative of each American Literature class deliver their speech to the community.
Tonight's speeches were delivered in front of more than two hundred students, families, and three volunteer judges. John Pendleton (a former Proctor faculty member, trustee and parent), Liz Blodgett Smith '80, P'13 (alum, past parent and current Vice Chair of Proctor's Board of Trustees), and Tom Kealy (Colby-Sawyer College Professor of English) who graciously gave their time to critique the speeches.
The consensus after tonight's event was this group of seven finalists gave the strongest, most well-written, and well-delivered speeches in recent memory. Honest reflections tackled heavy topics: assault and abuse, struggles with eating disorders, hunger, sexual orientation, and tragic family situations. The poise of these students never ceases to amaze us, nor does the depth of their personal journeys.
The winner of the contest will be announced next week, a single name engraved above the nineteen past winners on a plaque that resides in the Wilkins Meeting House. All seven finalists were courageous enough to stand on stage and share a piece of their lives with us, and as we walk by that plaque with past winners on it on our way into and out of assembly each day, we are reminded of the strength this entire generation of young people possesses. Every single sophomore prepared and delivered a speech to their individual classes, they stepped out of their comfort zone, looked deep inside themselves, and shared a piece of their story with us. Our kids live complex lives. They encounter issues from which we wish we could shelter them forever. Their innocence shattered, often at a far-too-young of an age. Tonight, we saw strong young women and men turn challenges into opportunities to educate and empower others, and for that we are thankful.
Proctor is a better place because of nights like tonight and because of events like the Hays Speaking Contest. Thank you to all who made it happen, especially our American Literature teachers: Peter Southworth, John Bouton, Tom Morgan, and Shauna Turnbull for guiding their students through this powerful process.