Column: New sophomore speech contest refreshes curriculum

The Newtonite

by Connor Vasu

In switching the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., sophomore essay contest to a speech contest, this school is updating an integral part of its curriculum.

The purpose of the speeches is to inspire change in society, which is different from the old essay competition, in which students would write about personal heroes. Now, sophomores try to inspire peers to take an action through a speech.

Although public speaking is essential for many jobs, there is little to no focus on public speaking in English classes at this school, except for in the elective, Public Speech.

Public speaking is beneficial to learn because it gives students confidence. Throughout their lives, students need to speak publicly, and focusing on this life skill now is crucial. Now, with three or so weeks focused solely on speech-writing and voice, students can learn an important skill without having to take an elective.

Learning about public speaking is important because students learn about concepts such as logos, pathos and ethos. These concepts can strengthen their English essays and their class participation. They also can benefit students as adults or in college, when they may have to speak publicly .

In addition, this change makes the curriculum exciting. Students can talk about something they are passionate about and try to convince others to change their behavior. Although change can be scary, this new speech unit will be a welcome change-up to the normal curriculum, which focuses more on analysis of literary works.
Making the move to update a new curriculum is a great way of ensuring that King’s legacy lives on, but in a revitalized, different way.