This year, we took a new twist on one of our proudest annual traditions, the Doris Post Oratory Competition!
In addition to speeches covering a variety of topics by students in grades 6-9, we added a grade 10 debate component.
Doris Post, our competition’s namesake, left a lasting impact on our school for more than 30 years. After joining Dwight as a registrar in 1953, she took on a number of roles, including music teacher, English teacher, Academic Dean, and ultimately, Chair of the English Department. Throughout her time at Dwight, she influenced the lives of countless students. Shortly after her retirement, the competition was launched in her honor.
For many years, our English Department, chaired by Michael Wiesenfeld, spearheaded the competition before Emily Smith, Middle School Head of Humanities; and Shauna Fitzmahan, Head of Upper School Social Studies and TOK, took over the mantle this year. They introduced the Supreme Court debate, which was moderated by Ms. Fitzmahan and Jonathan Ruelens, Upper School English Teacher.
After working on their speeches — and numerous competitions among over 200 students in their English classes — two finalists from each grade gathered before an audience of their peers and a panel of faculty judges for the final oratory match-up. They stepped up to the lectern to demonstrate outstanding research, writing, and public speaking skills; and the judges had the difficult task of naming the winners in bold below.
Sixth graders spoke about a family tradition:
- Ella Schindler, “Memorial Day”
- Neil Kush, “Light Overcomes Darkness”
Seventh graders spoke about a person who has influenced them greatly:
- Brooke Radosevich, “Beautiful”
- Lilliana Dellin, “To Locate the Lamb Sauce”
Eighth graders informed the audience about a topic of their choice:
- Jacobo Bustos, “Unknown Laws around the U.S.”
- Kyra Spahn, “The Persuasive Power of Priming”
Ninth graders spoke about controversial issues around the globe:
- Jennifer Park, "Change Happens, One Step at a Time” (about the opioid epidemic)
- Akhil Karra, “How Long Must This Go on?” (about police brutality)
The entire tenth grade participated in the debate process, which took the form of an interdisciplinary project between English and History classes. They tackled a variety of Supreme Court cases in preliminary face-offs. The finalists, two teams, debated the current case of “Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association.” They debated whether the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which aids in keeping a separation between church and state, requires the removal or destruction of a 93-year-old memorial to American servicemen who died in World War I solely because the memorial bears the shape of a cross.
The team of Elizabeth Tatishev, Michaela Gary, Stacey Soh, and Sadie Projansky battled the team of Trisha Jha, Jennifer Klein, Chaz Jackson, and Alessandro Pesaresi, with the latter winning; they argued that a 40-foot cross honoring fallen soldiers was Constitutional.
Congratulations to all — we’re certain that Doris Post would be proud of our modern-day orators!