Speech introductions set the stage for senior speakers

January 15, 2016

For as long as current St. Paul Academy and Summit School students and faculty can remember, senior speech introductions have been a constant precedent of the speeches themselves, characteristic of the celebrated Friday assemblies. With the transition of setting of the senior speech program into the new Huss Center for Performing Arts, there has been a parallel reconsideration of the guidelines specific to senior speech introductions.

This began last year, with the enforcement of a rule banning handheld microphone use for senior speech introductions.

“Those performances were, a lot of faculty felt, stealing the thunder of the speaker,” Dean of Students Max Delgado said. This year, the rule has expanded to the banning of props altogether. “We did have a couple instances of prop failures that led to distraction,” Delgado said. “The other reason we din’t want props is that what was happening, over the course of the year, was that there were mini performances before the speech, and we din’t want them stealing the thunder of the speaker. The props got more extravagant as time went on. [There was] a need to curtail that a bit so the focus of the senior speeches could just be the seniors who are presenting them,” Delgado said.

Those rules are concerned with the depth of the senior speech introductions. As for the breadth, circumstances specific to a larger class size have driven a stricter enforcement of time limits for introductions.

“There are more students in this particular class,” Delgado said. With “Last year, although there were many senior speech days with four senior speakers, there were plenty where there were three. That [granted] a little more bandwidth and a little more time. We’re booked all the way through- every Friday there are four speakers.”

Senior Miriam Tibbetts, who has assisted in multiple friends’ senior speech introductions thus far in the year believes that the time limit “helps intros be wittier.”

“What we came up with ultimately satisfied me,” Tibbetts said.

Between introductions, announcements from student groups and clubs, and the speakers themselves, assemblies have, since the start of the year, been cutting it close; “Two minutes late or right on time. We need just a little bit more breathing room. I’m getting nervous about running over,” Delgado said. “There’s also been a lot of conversation about how we can make the assembly announcements a little quicker.”

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