Building Powerful Public Speaking Skills

The last two weeks have been bustling in Middle School, as our teachers have sought to recreate some traditional WES milestones while following COVID safety protocols. Our science fair, once a crowded room of displays, students, judges, and onlookers, was transformed last Friday into Zoom breakout rooms where our students presented their research via very professional slideshows (once again judged by our skilled and talented parents). That evening, our Grade 8 students performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream via livestream, and tomorrow evening Grade 6 will present Behind the Blue Curtain, a musical mash-up of Broadway, film, and TV hits, via YouTubePremiere. 

Although the theatrical performances may masquerade as fun, and indeed they are, all three of these events are outstanding examples of how we help our students become kind, confident, and prepared. They nudge children out of their comfort zones and help them develop poise and learn how to speak with confidence before groups of people. 

We support and challenge our Dragons through these experiences from a very early age. In a typical year, our Early Childhood students take part in a Christmas pageant, and our Dragons enjoy their thespian debut, with lines, in Kindergarten. These annual productions continue each year, culminating in the Grade 6 Musical, the Grade 7 performance of Antigone and House of the Tragic Poet in Italy, and a Shakespearan production in Grade 8. It’s a joy to watch the progression, and how years of practice both help our students become self-possessed and competent public speakers.

COVID, while presenting its challenges, has also provided new opportunities. You may remember the first time you gave a powerpoint slideshow in front of a group of people. For many of us, those experiences may have come during college or in the first several years of our career. And you most likely distinctly remember the first time you had to give an important presentation through Zoom. Our students are building these critical skills, articulating their thoughts and reasonings in persuasive ways, and they haven’t even started high school yet!

We are so very proud of the incredibly professional way our Middle School students conducted themselves during our first-ever virtual science fair and their lively theatrical productions. Please join us tomorrow night for the Grade 6 musical debut – you won’t want to miss it!

Danny Vogelman

Head of School