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Mission & Philosophy

Sharing Our Truths With the 8th Grade Speech Project

Public speaking is a challenge, even for the most seasoned pros. It involves a complex set of skills, hours of preparation, and the courage to share your voice with an audience. Every fall, our 8th graders face this challenge head-on with the 8th grade speech assignment. Many say this is one of the biggest challenges of their middle school experience, but also the most satisfying.
This year, our 8th graders delivered their speeches via Zoom to the entire Middle School community; communicating virtually comes with its own set of challenges. Without the physical presence of an audience to engage with, our 8th graders fine-tuned their storytelling techniques to ensure their presentations would make an impact. 

The Power of Vulnerability

This project brings together research, writing, speaking and presence, and self-reflection. Throughout, our students explore essential questions including:
  • How can being vulnerable make us stronger?
  • In what ways can I share my true self with those around me?
  • How can I be authentic without sounding cliche?
  • Am I able to listen to others and value who they are?
English teacher Ms. Lauren Paul encourages her students to select topics that are "right and true" for them; something that connects to their core values. The finished products are both polished and compelling. When the 8th graders share these speeches, daring to be vulnerable in front of their peers, it creates a bond among our students. They discover truths about each other they might not otherwise ever know. We asked Ms. Paul to select several speeches that exemplify the spirit of the project. Both she and her students are excited to share their work. Click below for excerpts.

List of 9 items

  • Sally Reed '25

  • Ellie Hill '25, Welcoming Individuality

  • Caroline Brenia '25

  • Grant Lonergan '25, I Have Fought the Good Fight, I Have Finished the Race, I Have Kept the Faith

  • Alex Zaremski '25, From Fear to Freedom

  • Emily Cussimanio '25, Simple Things in Life

  • Abigail DiPaola '25, Success Through Confidence

  • Grace Frankl '25, Growing Up With Luke

  • Thomas Parsch '25, Life and History Appreciation

  • Finn Fries '25, The Lessons I Have Learned From Drawing

  • Anna Clark '25, Changing Perspective

“At the heart of these speeches, I ask the students to do something that, for the majority of middle schoolers, can be the scariest moment — being vulnerable in front of their community. I tell the 8th graders that most people associate vulnerability with weakness, but it is quite the opposite. There is strength and freedom in being vulnerable. The 8th graders not only met but far exceeded my expectations. Every time one of my kids finishes his or her speech, I could not be more proud and am honored that they trust me enough to have the courage to share themselves with all of us.” — Ms. Paul

Please share!

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146