Sophomore Speech Contest
Each sophomore at Newton South is asked to research, write, and perform a 3-6-minute persuasive speech on a topic of his or her choice. The goal of the unit is to give students a set of basic skills for using their bodies and voices to persuade an audience orally.
Each English class then selects two representatives to a semi-final round, at which teachers hear about 40 of the top speeches and select the top six. The top six then present their speeches in front of an assembly of the entire sophomore class, and a panel of three guest judges selects a winner.
Scroll down to see a video of the 2015 speech champion, Noah Kopf.
Sophomore Speech Showcase
In 2015, we began a new event designed to give an audience to a wider range of speeches and to rectify what we saw as a long-standing problem of the speech unit: Students speak with knowledge and passion about topics they care about, but the realities of time make it difficult to stop and talk about the ideas they raise.
In the speech showcase, teachers nominate students from their classes that are raising provocative and interesting ideas. Three or four students present their speeches in the Lecture Hall during the morning blocks of the speech finals, and other teachers sign up to bring their classes to hear the presentations. After each speech, a teacher facilitates a brief group discussion about the ideas the speaker put forward.