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Religion Pillar

Senior Speakers Program 2017-2018

Program description:

In the 2016-2017 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, will work with fellow speakers and faculty to refine their skills in writing, editing, rehearsing and delivering their 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

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, regardless of 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?

Class meeting presentations are typically directed to address the needs of a specific class. For freshman, the emphasis may be on becoming involved, or trying new things. Speeches to the senior class might focus on becoming an independent adult and transitioning to college or life beyond high school.

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

Typically, sharing information about Episcopal High School in a way that is positive, enthusiastic and includes illustrations from your own experiences. The speaker might talk about their own experiences in one of the pillars, or share a "day-in-the-life" perspective 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 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 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, parents, guests and EHS faculty at the graduation ceremony. It typically is a reflection on where the class has been, where it is, and an inspiring message for the graduating class as it moves forth into the world beyond EHS.

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

Similar to after-school ETV presentations, a speaker's 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.


Application process:

  1. There are two application windows per year for each senior class: The first is due by mid-April of the junior year for rising seniors to speak in the fall of their senior year. The second is mid-November - with limited acceptance - to speak in the spring of their senior year.
  2. Current seniors (Class of 2018) complete the application and submit it to Mr. Binder by November 17th, 2017 to compete for four speaking opportunities in the spring of 2018.
  3. Current Juniors (Class of 2019) complete the application and submit it to Mr. Binder by March 23, 2018. The application includes your preference of speaking venues and a 250-300 word “first draft” of your Senior Speech.
  4. Applications will be reviewed by SSP faculty and staff. Applicants will be notified of their application status and venue placements by the dates noted on the application.
  5. If a Senior Speaker changes the topic from their “first draft,” they may re-apply to the program, but there is no guarantee of acceptance.


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 speech text at least two weeks prior to speech delivery date may not be able to postpone to a later date.
  • All speakers must complete an initial presentation of their speech during our senior speaker training sessions (currently every other Wednesday afternoon, immediately after school, starting September 13) prior to delivering it in their designated venue.
  • All candidates accepted into the senior speaker program must participate regularly in senior speaker training to learn and to support their fellow speakers.

Initial training and Commitment:

  • The Senior Speakers program (SSP) is a year-long commitment.
  • Once accepted into the SSP, candidates will meet for training regularly to learn about the mechanics of writing and delivering a speech.
  • Candidates will learn about different types of presentations, audiences, and venues, and how those considerations 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, all of the members of the SSP will gather to listen and give the speaker their feedback. All members are expected to attend these group meetings and support their fellow candidates.
  • Each candidate will meet with Rev. Kochenburger to refine their final speech at least one week prior to their scheduled speech delivery date.