by Steven Coffin/Staff Writer
Caption for Picture: Chris Churchill, 12, gives a presentation during Speech class with Mrs. Schoeff.
Many students are scared of taking Speech, but as a student currently taking it, I can proudly say that it is not that bad. It is actually my favorite class, and even though public speaking can seem like a frightening task as first; it quickly becomes a tool for self-confidence. There are many aspects of Speech that make it my favorite class, but there are also some bad aspects that come with it.
Comm121, or Speech, is a dual-credit class offered through Ball State University based around public speaking, philosophy of rhetoric, and building confidence. It is a class available for seniors and juniors but mostly seniors take it. I am the only junior in my class, and that made the first few days of Speech really hard, but I would’ve regretted taking it next year. I think I got the best Speech community possible.
The biggest thing I love about Speech is the community. Your peers in Speech are going through the exact same fright when they are speaking in front of the class, so the community quickly becomes non-judgmental because everyone knows it is easy to make mistakes when you are nervous. Mackenzie Horning, 12, agreed, stating, “My favorite thing about Speech is the learning environment. It is very relaxed and non-judgmental. “ Public speaking is a lot easier when you know that the people you are speaking to are supporting you. Everyone is united in Speech; students may have different beliefs on topics, but everyone supports each other. An “um” slipping out of your mouth is just as bad for everyone in the room as it is for you.
Having a great Speech community also helps with the stress that is involved in Speech. The Hot Seat, an event that occurs occasionally on the day after reading a chapter is assigned, is very hard. The Hot Seat is when a student is picked, and they must stand behind the podium and answer three random questions precisely. You can either get five points, or zero points, depending on whether or not you got all three questions right or not. In my experience, everyone shouts out encouraging chants like “Steven Strong” and that really helps when you hear your name get picked for what might be the scariest event in any class ever.
The Hot Seat isn’t unfair, though; Mrs. Sue Schoeff puts on “Hot in Herre” by Nelly and gives us the time of the song to skim through the book and memorize important words and their meanings. Everytime I hear the tempo it puts me in a mode of immense stress, which helps me with my memorization. Many students do not read the book previously to their chance at the Hot Seat and they end up getting the five points due to the study time when “Hot in Herre” plays.
That brings me to one of the only things I dislike about the class, the reading. Since part of Speech is learning about the philosophy of rhetoric, the organization patterns, and parts of speech, students are expected to read most of the Speech book. Horning said, “My least favorite thing about speech is reading the chapters and taking the tests. I did not expect to have to read a book in speech class. While the tests aren’t hard,the hot seats are.“ I completely agree. So does Emma Douglas, 12, who said her least favorite thing is “Hot seats. Being under pressure like that kills me and I don’t read so it’s like double the no.”
Another great thing about Speech is that it completely changed my confidence and brought me out of the shell I have been stuck in for most of my life. Horning said, “Speech has helped me become more comfortable and confident in my ability to speak in front of people. It has also taught me how to develop different kinds of speeches and how to organize outlines.” Emma agreed, stating, “Speech has helped me speak better in front of not only my classmates, but also the kids that I teach for over at Maxwell.” Not only has the class given me self- confidence as well, but it also led me to the decision to go to college for communications. That is how good Speech is.
It wouldn’t be as good without Mrs. Schoeff. Mrs. Schoeff adds humor to the hard work of Speech and she creates a nice balance that most classes lack. She also gives students the freedom to speak about whatever topic they want to speak about. The class rarely forces you to speak about topics that bore you, or that you don’t believe in. The final speech is a ten minute persuasive speech about a controversial topic with a five minute Q&A session. This may seem very difficult, but some of the stress goes away since we will actually know what we are talking about and we will be interested in the research. Horning said, “I am very comfortable speaking in front of my peers thanks to the practice and encouragement of Mrs. Schoeff.”
When I say freedom, I certainly mean it. For my media review speech I was allowed to review Childish Gambino’s album “Camp” and I rapped some censored verses during my speech. Knowing how happy the audience was afterwards, I can proudly state that rapping was the best decision I have ever made as a student. The speeches range from an informative speech about memes, to a speech about how scary jellyfish are, to a speech about a classmate. The possibilities are limitless
I greatly recommend any sophomore or junior to take Speech next year. It allows you to build self confidence, the community is fantastic and non-judgmental, Schoeff is a teacher with a unique teaching style, and the freedom found within Speech is unlike any class available in GCHS.