Speech NIght 2010


This year the students of Foundations in History and Literature studied many of those authors and subjects necessary for a good foundation in classical studies. They read Roman and Greek history and literature, such as adapted excerpts from Livy’s history of Rome and Homer’s Odyssey, as well narratives of the Peloponnesian War and Alexander the Great. A lot of time was also devoted to noteworthy English and American authors, such as Charles Lamb, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edmund Spenser, and Isaac Watts. Students experienced European and American history through interesting narratives: they learned about Washington’s penchant for punctuality, Otto von Bismarck’s talent in dueling with schläger, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s pluck as a schoolboy. Students also read primary source documents in the form of personal narratives, such as William Lee’s narrative of his father Robert E. Lee and William Bradford narrative of the Pilgrim voyage to America.

    The Foundations students in this evening’s play will be reciting much of the poetry and quotations committed to memory this year. Memorizing the classic authors is an integral part of our home school curriculum, especially for the younger students. The Foundations group this year was assigned to commit thirty-five quotations and six poems to memory. Such extensive memorization may seem laborious (and, to be honest, ludicrous), but it can be the single-most constructive part of a child’s education. First, a practice of systematic memorization can exercise the mind in a very empowering way and increase the student’s ability later in life to memorize. Memorizing the classic authors 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. Memorizing carefully crafted sentences also provides a pattern (especially when the material is poetry) for musical rhythms, syntax and phrasing. Listen for the quoted poems and prose from such authors as Burke, Paine, Shakespeare, Cowper, Dickinson, and many others. For a more complete list of why students should memorize poetry, check out Ten Reasons to Have Your Child Memorize Poetry.

    The second group of students studied Gothic literature and related genres—science fiction, mystery, detective, fantasy, fairy tale and fable. The authors studied included Hawthorne, Doyle, Carroll, de Maupassant, Orwell, Thackaray, and Swift. The students focused on recognizing the common elements found in fantasy, science fiction, Gothic and the like, and understanding the seemingly absurd details as emblems and types. This year’s Speech Night assignment was to write a parody of a well-known science fiction book and to satirize some aspect of American society or institution within the parody. The result was a story of a Time Traveler who goes into the future and discovers that men have evolved into creatures who are in every respect the same as 21st-century men except one. What was that one thing? Listen to the play and find out.

    The Spiritual Narrative class studied classic journal entries and spiritual autobiographies of some of the most influential literary men in world history, such as Augustine, Hudson Taylor, William Cowper, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, and G. K. Chesterton. In addition to studying the spiritual narratives of these authors, they also looked at the personal narratives of other “secular” men, such as George Orwell, E. B. White, and Charles Lamb (who is pictured on the cover of the program). This year’s assignment was to write either a spiritual or personal narrative, to be given as a speech. The writing focus was to create interest in the speech by stating some irony, using humor, or creating suspense. Some students in this year’s Speech Night used some repeated metaphor or line as a base point to communicate the theme of their speech—e.g., a toppling steeple, a tower, or the saying “Why bother?”

    Remember as you listen that the students delivered their speeches from memory.

The Tower of Babel
by Austin Berman

Mr. G. and Greenwood Farm
by Samuel Walter

Said Hanrahan
recited by Oliver Kocher

A Weird Reunion
by Joseph Styer

The Spark
by Micah Walter

Babysitting the Wilsons:
A Satire on Home Schooling

Why Bother?
by Jonam Walter

Where Hope Is Found
by Charissa Garner

Byting the Apple:
A Dramatic Science Fiction Satire on American Life

Back to the Lake
by Tim Clark

The Thinking Resolution
by Ben Shaw

Forty-five Prima Donnas
by Julia Fijan

Misadventures in Liturgy
by Alexi Sargeant

Speech Night 2010


When I read great literature, great drama, speeches, or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.

—James Earl Jones