By Hannah ’25
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved public speaking, and like many other activities that I participated in during elementary school – I was looking forward to continuing my journey with public speaking at HW. During seventh grade, there are many opportunities to be involved in public speaking and debate, seventh-grade students can join the debate or ethics bowl team, and even core subjects involve public speaking in class curriculums through presentational speaking and discussion activities. Even though seventh-graders already have a ton of ways to be involved, once students reach eighth and ninth grade, their options increase, and students are given a multitude of different classes and clubs that cover public speaking.
When students reach eighth grade, one of their elective requirements is to take either a public speaking or debate class. When I was in eighth grade, these classes were the first courses I had encountered that really focused on speech and debate. I chose to enroll in a public speaking class instead of debate because I mainly wanted to focus on speech; I ended up learning about a wide range of topics regarding public speaking and what I loved about the class is that students are able to participate so greatly, and the course is mainly based on what students want to learn. In this class, I learned the fundamentals of speech writing and speaking through sharing my speeches and doing many different lessons and exercises. In the long run, this course has helped me with presentational speaking as well as my own writing skills.
Towards the end of eighth grade, I got another taste of public speaking when I joined the ethics bowl club. Ethics bowl is a relatively new club/class at the middle school where students put together arguments and examine the morality of different cases/issues. This club also heavily involves public speaking and some aspects of debate. Joining this team really helped me see all the different ways I could use my skills in public speaking, and I’m still a part of the team this year! For 9-12th graders, there is also an opportunity to compete in public speaking. I joined the speech team this year and I just recently had my first competition! During our meetings, we work on and prepare our speeches for upcoming tournaments and competitions, and during competitions, we perform speeches for judges! Public speaking has been a major part of my HW experience since seventh grade, and it continues to be a major part of my academic and extracurricular life!