The Gifts of Speech
By: Kate Julian '22
Ever since I was a little girl, my absolute favorite activity has been talking. I have a remarkable ability to talk the ear off anyone, regardless of the topic of discussion. My parents once took me to visit a speech pathologist, who said, “The words come out faster than they form in her brain.” With seemingly boundless energy and words that never seemed to stop, talking defined who I was.
I was overjoyed in Elementary School at the prospect of being able to use my at times overzealous speaking ability when I joined the Speech Club in Grade 7. The Speech Club has been an integral part of my school experience all the way through to finishing my Senior School year with the team in 2022. After six years in the club, I realized something my Elementary School self would not have known. The first thing is that the program has provided me the opportunity for growth and confidence in all forms of public speaking. The second is the enjoyment I received in the competitive aspect of the program and perhaps, the most important, are the connections formed and the memories of the club that will last a lifetime.
The STS Speech Club is not segregated by grade or division. Students in Grade 7 can work with and learn from Grade 12 students. I remember when I was in Grade 7, Senior School students accepting me as part of the team and making me feel welcome. In turn, in my Senior School year, I have enjoyed mentoring the younger students so they too will share these memories when they look back on their last year in the club. Of course, the focus of the program is to improve public speaking skills but the club goes far beyond just skill development. In fact, the memories I look so fondly on are those made with the older students, riding the bus to competitions, exploring different schools where competitions and tournaments were held, checking in with each other between rounds, and the rush of waiting to see if STS could take all the medals in one category (which is not an uncommon occurrence).
Speech taught me how to harness my natural “motor mouth,” but most importantly, speech afforded me the ability to connect with older students who I knew would support me. Because of speech, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin, “motor mouth” and all. I learned how to deal with difficult social situations, how to approach teachers and adults, how to manage co-curriculars and school work, how to win, and most importantly how to lose. Many of these lessons came from my coaches, peers, and older students whom I looked up too, which makes these memories very special. Even now as I graduate, I am still in contact with those older students whom I formed connections with and I still find myself turning to them for advice about the transition to post-secondary school.
My time as an STS student officially came to an end in June 2022 at Senior School Prizegiving. However, I am able to confidently state that the public speaking skills I have developed, the connections I have made, and the lessons I learned during my time in the STS Speech Program will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“I learned how to deal with difficult social situations, how to approach teachers and adults, how to manage co-curriculars and schoolwork, how to win, and most importantly, how to lose.”