Speech Night 2007

 
 
 

About Speech Night 2007: Recitation and Speeches


Recitations, now a rarity, were common fare a century and a half ago. The great statesman and orator Daniel Webster had a special ability in this area as a young student. A certain schoolmaster once announced that there would be a prize for the student who could memorize the most verses from Scripture. At the contest one student memorized 25; another, 40; still another, 52, all without stumbling. Then it was Daniel’s turn. After he recited the first ten psalms, without a pause or mistake, the teacher stopped him and declared him the winner.

    Memorizing poetry is a valuable teaching tool for several reasons. First, it provides the student with vocabulary in context and ideas to draw upon for thought, reflection and writing. If the material memorized is spiritual or moral in nature, it is likely to influence his affections and hopefully steer his heart towards God. Memorization also exercises the mind in a very empowering way and increases the student’s ability later in life to memorize. Lastly, it provides a pattern (especially when the material is poetry) for musical rhythms, syntax, and phrasing. Listen for the quoted poems in the dramatic presentations of the elementary and middle school students.

    This academic year, the high school students examined the history of the short story and novel and read some of the best English and American examples from the 18th to 20th centuries. The students began with such short story writers as Hawthorne, Conrad, Bierce, London, de Maupassant, and Aicard and ended with the Victorian novelists Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens. After discussing the various elements of the short story, students wrote their own, one of which will be recited tonight. At the end of the year, the class studied some of the basic elements of rhetoric and employed those techniques in the speeches which they will deliver tonight.

    Another high school group examined the allegorical, psychological and spiritual aspects of fairy tales, fables, Gothic, fantasy, mystery and science fiction and explored the historical milieu, scientific interests and theories that spawned these genres. Authors and works included Beowulf, the Brontë sisters, Defoe, Hawthorne, Swift, Voltaire, Doyle, Dickens, Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, and others.

    The middle school students began the year with an interesting journal written by a Swiss shepherd boy who was trapped under the snow with his grandfather, who later died in their dark imprisonment. The students also read a wide variety of other journals, autobiographies, personal narratives, and biographies. All of the students who attended this class will give a dramatic monologue tonight in which they impersonate one of the authors read.

    Character-building fables, narratives, short stories, auto-biographies and poems were this year’s fare for the elementary students. Among other authors, they read John Bunyan, William Bradford, Joseph Addison, and William Wordsworth. The students also memorized much poetry and studied poetics. The presentations you will hear tonight will give a condensed dramatic survey of the work covered this year and demonstrate the poetry memorized.

   Note that all of the speeches were delivered from memory without the aid of notes.


The Politics of Global Warming

A speech by Benjamin Walter


Robert Southey Recites William Cowper’s Poem “The Lord My Banner”

A dramatic monologue by Tommy Stevens


Answers to Prayer

A speech by Alysia O’Neill


William Wordsworth Recites His Own Poem “Daffodils”

A dramatic monologue by Jadon Sargeant


Hudson Taylor Recites William Cowper’s “Jehovah-Jireh”

A dramatic monologue by Timmy Harper


Nathaniel Hawthorne Retells “The Artist of the Beautiful”

A dramatic monologue by Alexi Sargeant


America’s Alarming Debt

A speech by Daniel Mox


Richard Baxter Recites Psalm 100 in Meter by Isaac Watts

A dramatic monologue by Ellis Sargeant


William Cowper’s Hope in the Midst of Despair

A dramatic monologue by Benjamin Shaw


Rudyard Kipling Recites Alfred Tennyson’s “The Eagle”

A dramatic monologue by Marcus Shera


Samuel Johnson Recites Entries from His Own Dictionary

A dramatic monologue by Samuel Walter


James Thurber Recites Robert Frost’s “Mending Walls”

A dramatic monologue by Austin Berman


If the Stars Should Appear One Night in a Thousand Years

A speech by Kimi Muir


Charles Dickens Recites Christina Rossetti’s “By the Waters of Babylon”

A dramatic monologue by Bradley Berman


Cotton Mather Recites a Portion from Alfred Tennyson’s “Gareth and Lynette”

A dramatic monologue by Gabriel Klee


William Bradford Recites Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Courtship of Miles Standish

A dramatic monologue by William Kocher


Squealer’s Speech to the Animals: Orwell’s Allegory on Communist Tyranny

A dramatic monologue by Danielle Leone


We Run Faster When We Have Lost Our Way

A speech by Abigail Kocher


He Who Dares Not Offend Cannot Be Honest

A speech by David Mox


Boys Will Be Boys

A speech by Nico Salvitti


Davy Crockett Recites Emily Dickinson’s Poem “I’m Nobody”

A dramatic monologue by Jonam Walter


The Dove: A Narrative

A dramatic recitation of an original short story by Nicholas Furton


Contempt for the Law

A speech by Oliver Kocher


Sowing to the Spirit

A speech by Emily Mox


The Third Way of Making Money

A speech by Micah Walter

“And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?”

— Plato

Speech Night 2007