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Episcopal High School

Senior Speakers Program 2017-2018

Program description:

In the 2017-2018 School year, the Senior Speakers Program (SSP) replaced and expanded the former “Senior Homilist” program. Each student accepted to the SSP will receive initial training in the basics of public speaking, then work with a team of faculty and peers to edit, develop, and rehearse a speech.

> Application Process

The Senior Speaker will be selected to speak at one of the following events/venues:

  • A class meeting
  • Admissions events
  • Chapel
  • Parent events
  • Senior Retreat
  • Commencement
  • After-school speakers’ forum
  • A TED-style video presentation

All speeches need to be inspirational in tone and message – encouraging – a call to better living. There will always be expectations about appropriateness for the EHS community, no matter the audience or event. Some events have particular content needs designated by the organizing group. The SSP is a learning process; participating students must be open to reworking what they have written.

What would a class meeting presentation be like?

A speech directed toward a specific grade level could be presented at a class meeting for that grade. It might be a speech directed to freshmen about becoming involved or trying new things. It might be a speech directed to the senior class about becoming an independent adult and transitioning to college.

What would be a typical topic for a presentation at an Admissions function or parent group?

The purpose of these presentations is to share information about Episcopal High School in a way that is positive and enthusiastic. A speaker might talk about involvement in one of the pillars or share perspectives on student life at EHS.

What would be appropriate for a homily in Chapel or at the Senior Retreat?

A homily is a short sermon in the context of a worship service meant to inspire the listeners. Chapel is a time of spiritual reflection and worship. Homilies need to focus on the presence, role, and actions of God in our midst. They draw from Old or New Testament readings. Preaching in a worship service is all about preaching the Word of God – a humbling responsibility.

Topics that are not particularly spiritual or which could push hot buttons for our community are more appropriate in venues other than chapel. There is no expectation or need for a homilist to have experienced a life trauma to effectively preach the Word of God.

What would be appropriate for a Commencement address?

A Commencement address is a speech presented to one’s classmates, their parents & guests, and the EHS faculty at the graduation ceremony. It might reflect on where the class has been, and to inspire the graduating class as it moves forth from EHS.

What would be well-suited for an after-school speakers’ forum?

Similar to after-school ETV presentations, a speakers’ forum would take place after school on a Wednesday. Topics would be suitable for all ages in our community and might include thoughts about politics, student life, growing up, etc.

What would be suited for a TED-style video presentation?

A TED (“Technology, Entertainment and Design”) Talk is directed to a world-wide audience. TED was created with the philosophy that ideas have the power to “change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.”

Senior Speakers for this venue will make a live video recording of their speech in front of the Senior Speakers group, and will receive a copy of their recording to take home to their family, include in a college application, keep for posterity, etc.


Application process:

  1. Interested Juniors complete the application and submit it to Mr. Binder by May 1, 2017. The application includes your preference of speaking venues and a 250-300 word “first draft” of your Senior Speech.
  2. Applications will be reviewed by SSP faculty and staff. Applicants will be notified of their application status and venue placements prior to the end of the current school year.
  3. If a Senior Speaker changes the topic from their “first draft,” they may re-apply to the program, but there is no guarantee of a space.
  4. Late applicants will be considered on a space-available basis throughout the school year.


Things to keep in mind:

  • Speakers must be willing to have proposed topics rejected and their texts edited. This is not an open platform.
  • Speaker venue preferences will be considered, but the faculty and staff team will ultimately make the final decision about venue.
  • The team may decide that a speech is not ready to be presented at all.
  • Senior Speakers who have not completed their text by their due date (ALWAYS at least three weeks prior to speech delivery date) may not be able to postpone to a later date.

Initial training and Commitment:

  • The Senior Speakers program is a year-long commitment.
  • Soon after being accepted into the program, candidates will meet to learn more about the mechanics of writing and delivering a speech.
  • Candidates will also learn more about the different types of presentations, audiences, and venues, and how those considerations will affect the types of speeches they will give.
  • Following this process, students will determine their speech delivery date directly with Mr. Binder.
  • Before each speech date, the candidate group will gather to listen and give the speaker their feedback. All candidates are expected to attend these group meetings and support their fellow candidates.
  • Each candidate will meet with Rev. Kochenburger to refine and practice their final speech at least two weeks prior to their scheduled speech date.