Seniors Give Speeches as Part of Annual Tradition

Each member of the Class of 2018 presenting a speech to a live audience this month.

Every year at the end of January, each member of the senior class takes the stage in the Lora M. Robins Theatre to deliver a self-written speech to an audience of their peers, teachers, and family. This annual tradition is believed to have taken place ever since the school’s founding, according to Upper School public speaking teacher Susan Sanford.

“When the school was established, it was agreed that every child should have the experience of public speaking as part of their formative education before they graduate,” Ms. Sanford said. “Children receive exposure through acting in the Lower School plays and taking part in class presentations, but the senior speeches are quite a different experience.”

At the beginning of their final year at Steward, senior students are instructed by Ms. Sanford about the basic characteristics of public speaking, such as volume, enunciation, pace, inflection, and vocal variety.

Next, she asks them to think about three things they’re passionate about—be it a hobby, experience, or person—that has shaped them into the person they are today. Once each student has decided on his or her topic, they get to work on an outline and opening paragraph for their four- to five-minute speech.

“We discuss the fact that today’s society is not used to receiving information audibly, so the opening of their speech really has to grab the audience and provide a road map of where they’re going on this journey,” she said. “After that, we work on transitioning into the body of the speech.”

This year’s speech presentations, which began on Wednesday, January 24 and concluded on Friday, February 2, included topics such as the loss of a parent, the impact of being on a sports team, and the experience of attending an out-of-state summer program, just to name a few.

“Life is about more than just existing—life is about thriving and exploring our creations,” said senior Nicole Teichner (pictured) at the end of her speech. “I urge you to take risks, push yourself, and go on an adventure, despite adversity. But mostly, I encourage you to reflect—it’s the only way to truly appreciate the outcome of your endeavors and run into that beautiful future, one step at a time.”

Ms. Sanford said she emphasizes to students that if they show how passionate they are about their topic, the audience will feel passionate as well.

“Public speaking isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, so I encourage students to try their best,” she said. “If there’s a student who is struggling but can just take one toe to step outside of his or her comfort zone, I consider that a victory.”

Click here to view all senior speeches from this year. Please note that speeches are being gradually uploaded over the following days. Congratulations to all of our seniors on a job well done!


Steward Voices

Steward is an atmosphere that fosters confidence—something we have seen in all three of our kids. Whether it is playing a new sport, running for a seat on the Honor Council, or singing a solo on Talent Night, they have been encouraged to try, to experience, and to grow.
- Dan and Kathi Campbell, Parents of Abbie ’19, Emma ’17, and Ben ’14

Steward Voices

Steward is the right place for Micah and Kiri because they are able to develop strong connections with their teachers, which in turn facilitates confidence and resilience in their learning. Everyone at Steward knows your name and makes you feel so welcome.
- Paul and Janet Yoon, Parents of Kiri ’27 and Micah ’26

Steward Voices

Steward helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in college and the courage and confidence to set competitive career goals for myself. But, these skills weren’t lessons I learned just in Steward’s classrooms; they came from the athletic fields, in the hallways, and during Honor Council meetings, too.
- Grace Henderson ’10

Steward Voices

Steward provides Andrew with a nurturing environment which fosters his individualism, develops exemplary character traits, and continuously provides him with creative learning experiences. Consequently, Andrew ‘loves’ school and anticipates each day with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
- Betsy Jollay, Grandmother of Andrew O’Leary ’25

Steward Voices

I love all that The Steward School has done for Trace. Steward has uncovered Trace’s talents, celebrated his individuality, and strengthened his belief in himself. The faculty and staff offer an amazing balance of challenge and comfort, encouraging the best from all students. I can’t imagine Trace being anywhere else. Thank you, Steward School.
- Ron Coles, Father of Trace Coles ’19 and Grade 5 Teacher

Steward Voices

Being a member of The Steward School international program has been an awesome experience. The community has helped me tremendously along the way.
- Bowen Chen ’15


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