Annual Wells Speech Contest: Giving Voice to Change
The annual Wells Speech Contest is all about teaching our students to use their voices to make a change in the world. On the morning of December 20, our Speech Contest finalists -- seven Middle School students and nine Upper School students -- stood at the podium in Lasdon Theater and articulated their well-crafted speeches for the Harvey community.
English teacher Megan Taylor, a Harvey alum, took the stage as the host for this year’s competition. “Teens around the world have been speaking out, educating, and advocating for the things that matter to them,” said Ms. Taylor. “It is clear you all are a part of this rise of young voices.”
The speeches indeed gave voice to a wide range of issues from struggles with mental health, drug addiction and second chances, police shootings of unarmed African-Americans, environmental protection, self-acceptance, and women breaking the “glass ceiling” to the more lighthearted such as the examination into the unfair discrimination against adults who just want to eat Trix cereal and the advantages of driving a forklift.
Senior Elizabeth Mahony was awarded the Upper School prize for her speech “Risky” about the stigma surrounding mental illnesses such as clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Eighth-grader Emma Galgano received the Middle School award for her speech “The Glass Ceiling” which focused on the absence of a female U.S. President and more women leaders in government, inspired by the 2016 election.
Many thanks to our three judges: Francine Ambrogio Gurtler, a pediatric speech-language pathologist, early childhood specialist, and public speaker; Margot Connolly ‘08, a playwright, Harvey alumna, MFA graduate of the University of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop and currently a Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program Fellow at Juilliard; and Debra Stern, Founder and Executive Director of the Amani Public Charter School.
All the students did an amazing job using the power of their words to touch the audience with both deep inward reflection and waves of laughter. “We have laughed, cried, and felt such intense emotion as we listened to your voices,” said Ms. Taylor. “You are now the future, you are a movement, you are the change.”
Middle School Finalists: sixth-graders Ryan Byrne and Lucien Fried; seventh-graders Annissa Khanna and Luca Vega; eighth-graders Jordan Latta, Emma Galgano, and Holden Roberts
Upper School Finalists: ninth-graders Alex Piper and Kevon Patterson; 10th-graders Rocky Zhang and Sofia Silverman; 11th-graders Jacob Sklar and Charles Weiller; and 12th-graders Hudson Insolia, Elizabeth Mahony, and Andrew Lebowitz.