New Speaker Series spotlights professional application of academics

Senior Co-President of USC Cait Gibbons, and sophmore USC members Breandan Gibbons and Numi Katz discuss the new speaker series. “We hope to give students an idea of what their lives could be like outside of SPA through education on social issues, career paths, and other topics that extend beyond the classroom,” Gibbons said.

Lucas Johnson

Senior Co-President of USC Cait Gibbons, and sophmore USC members Breandan Gibbons and Numi Katz discuss the new speaker series. “We hope to give students an idea of what their lives could be like outside of SPA through education on social issues, career paths, and other topics that extend beyond the classroom,” Gibbons said.

During the hiatus of the biannual Speaker Day, Upper School Council has planned to institute a series of speakers that appeal the St. Paul Academy and Summit School student body. “Last year’s speaker day was really successful and we want to continue that this year. We’re trying to spread it out especially because we don’t have speaker day this year,” Speaker Day committee co chair Numi Katz said. “We have a subcommittee run by [senior] Lukas [Kelsey-Friedmann] and I. It does take a lot of work.”

The theme of our speaker series is ‘Empowering Individuals to Better the Greater Community’ so it’s a very broad theme that will hopefully allow for a broad spectrum of speakers.”

— Cait Gibbons

USC introduced a Speaker Series this year to bridge the thematic connections made through the biannual Speaker Day, which happens every two years.

We hope to give students an idea of what their lives could be like outside of SPA through education on social issues, career paths, and other topics that extend beyond the classroom,” USC Co-President Cait Gibbons said.

Each Speaker Day has a theme that generally united the speakers, with the March 2015 Speaker Day focused on “Immigration and Cultural Diversity.”  The devotion to unity and consistency has not been overlooked with the Speaker Series.

“The theme of our speaker series is ‘Empowering Individuals to Better the Greater Community’ so it’s a very broad theme that will hopefully allow for a broad spectrum of speakers,” Gibbons said.

The series will encompass a number of concepts that go unnoticed amongst high school students. USC anticipates that the speakers will be able to relate what students are doing in class today to a profession that uses said skills consistently: “I think a lot of students have trouble seeing what good having a solid understanding of geometry does, or how writing an analytical paper about a book will help in the long term, so hopefully some of these speakers will be able to show students how they will be able to use what they’re learning now in the future and in the real world,” Gibbons said.

USC hopes to bring in speakers up two twice a month. “Hopefully once or twice a month. We want to have a lot of availability and variation in the people we bring in, as much as we can,” USC advisor Jim McVeety said. “I don’t think there’s any shortage of people that we could find. The biggest challenge is finding time to do it that works. This is an opportunity for members of the community to hear from other people about topics, careers.” A survey was sent out to the student body asking about areas of interest to be taken into consideration when choosing and soliciting speakers. Options included STEM, (Science/Technology/Engineering Math), medicine, literature, history/social sciences, government/law, environmental studies/energy, and multiple miscellaneous options. Students also had the opportunity to list specific individuals they would like to invite to speak.

Aside from the practical lessons to be learned, the speakers also provide a point of view that can be valuable in terms of perspective as students transition into the real world, “I think it’s really important and valuable to be able to hear from people outside our community and people who live, think, learn, and act differently than we do,” Gibbons said.

In terms of second semester, USC hopes that parents of current students and past alumni will join in the series. USC hopes to create a longstanding tradition for the years where Speaker Day is not included.

I do hope that the council will continue to bring in speakers even in the Speaker Day off year,” Gibbons said.