Norfolk Academy shapes students into poised and dynamic public speakers through a unique, time-tested program that begins in first grade and finishes with the Senior Speech. From the moment a child steps into the first grade classroom and shakes hands with the teacher, the confidence-building education begins to unfold.
Throughout the Lower School years, students participate in taking a leadership role in the classroom. As “Boy-of-the Day” or “Girl-of-the-Day,” each student begins the academic day by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, offering a prayer of his/her choice, and presenting a short report or project, often tied to the curriculum. Students rotate through the roster repeatedly, so each student has multiple opportunities each year to lead and gain confidence.
In 9th grade, each student presents a persuasive speech to the faculty and the entire Middle School. Each student works closely with a faculty advisor and school librarians throughout the process of selecting a topic, researching, drafting, polishing, and practicing. The delivery of the speech is a rite of passage that marks each student’s preparation for the Upper School.
The Senior Speech, a final challenge before each senior heads to college, is a tradition that is at once a capstone and a celebration of each student’s accomplishment at public speaking. While the process echoes the 9th grade speech, seniors take the helm as the stages unfold, leaning on their faculty advisors for advice and encouragement, rather than for direction. For seniors, delivery of the Senior Speech is a highlight of the year, one that gives them an enduring sense of assurance.