Senior Speeches at Town Hall
By: Rafaela Chediak
PTS Falconer Contributor
December 12, 2018
In August, Maria Vanegas, the senior lead advisor and Palmer math teacher, told the 12th grade students that it would be mandatory for them to speak at least three minutes during town hall. Sighs of disapproval filled the room, and many students walked out either worried, annoyed, or both. “Public speaking is one of the biggest fears for most people so having the opportunity to do this at least once during their high school career could be beneficial if they have to do it later on. It also shows leadership and gives the underclassmen an idea of where the seniors are and get to know the individuals that make up the class,” shared Vanegas when asked about the mandate.
Town Hall takes place in the Palmer Trinity gymnasium and has been made obligatory for all upper class students and teachers to attend. It takes place at least once a month on Friday during Flex, and it typically lasts about 30 minutes. It consists of a few student speakers (if any signed up), who cover issues regarding school events or personal stories. One of the primary reasons regarding why town hall was created was to bring the high school class together. Through the senior speeches, the lower grades have “someone to look up to,” as it grants an opportunity for the seniors to “shine a light on their individuality and passion.”
Not every senior views their new task as a positive opportunity. In fact, 87% of the polled senior class thinks that town hall speeches should be optional, according to a poll conducted of 54. “I don’t agree with seniors being forced to speak if we don’t want to and if we’re not passionate about something. If we are, we should be allowed to speak individually, but we shouldn't be forced to speak as a group all together,” said Paola Birriel, a 12th grade student. Another senior, Brittney Lary, said that she disagrees with the new rule because she’s “not comfortable speaking about something personal” and defends her point by arguing that “not everyone is a public speaker. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do.”
Though the majority of the senior class expressed their disapproval of mandatory speeches, a few were quick to say otherwise. “I think it should be mandatory because students who don’t usually step out of their comfort zones are put in a position where they have to face their fears. There is public speaking in life and almost everyone will have to eventually talk in public, so it just helps out with their future, especially as seniors going to college. You’re going to have to step up and present your ideas. It’s better to get used to it now and be ready to face it in college when it actually counts,” said senior, Andres Alvarez. Riley May, another 12th grader, agrees with both Alvarez and Vanegas, saying that the seniors are “going to college next year and public speaking is a tool [they] can utilize in the future.”
Town hall, though assigned to the graduating class with good intentions, has received both praise and backlash from students themselves. “Regardless of my opinion, I can see why someone would be for or against making town hall speeches an option,” said May.