Drumroll please! We welcome to the stage a 10th grader from Patrick Henry Highschool, Haset Moloro! The Zoom grid of faces fills with virtual applause, icons of hands clapping in the corner of each person’s screen as Haset has the virtual spotlight turn to her and her face fills center stage.
It’s Speech Night – the monthly event in which students from College Town courageously face their peers and guest coaches to share about their lives. Throughout the night, Haset and five other student speakers answer this year’s speech night prompt: We are sitting in a historic moment in time (COVID, online learning, etc.). What have you learned about yourself/family and how do you want to be historic? What value will you hold to make sure you will make a mark? Each student thoughtfully reflecting on their present moment in light of their past – the unique person they have been and are becoming due to, and in spite of, their context.
Haset shares about her family. How she comes from humble roots, her experience translating for her parents as they navigate living in a new country, and how she continues to push past barriers to reach new goals and success. She shares with us, the audience, the wisdom of seizing what is attainable every day to persevere toward one’s goals. For her, this manifests in pursuing her dreams of higher education.
Kebron, an 11th grader, reflects on what he has learned through online learning during COVID. Ultimately realizing that he is the only person accountable to taking responsibility for his life and school work, he encourages us to “start taking more responsibility in your future”, “build good habits”, and “take that initiative”. Reminding everyone in attendance that “whether you succeed or not is up to you”.
Felipe, an 11th grader, and Mimi, a 9th grader, share how this moment has exposed them to issues that ring true both at home and in the broader social fabric. Felipe reflects on challenges with his family, losing loved ones, and having to navigate what feels like an ocean of challenges closing in around him. Yet through it all, Felipe realizes that his voice is important and is actively turning his challenges into music and writing, hoping that others in similar situations will find encouragement through his story. Similarly, Mimi reflects on how she has learned about power and privilege this year through the intersections of race and climate change. She has seen the impacts of these issues on her own community and hopes to take what she has learned to leave her mark as a leader, educating people about tough topics and leading groups to change for the better.
Our last speakers, Alvaro, 10th grade, and Trinity, 9th grade, speak to what their family has and continues to reveal to them about themselves. Alvaro reflects on his family’s discipline and determination, noting how he hopes to embody these traits on his own path. Trinity shares an honest look into the complexity of family and her own mental health journey, recognizing that family is more than blood — it’s the people who care about you and stick by your side through the tough times. Alvaro reminds us of how hard work and determination are essential to achieving our goals, while Trinity reminds us that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and that it takes a village to become the best version of yourself.
For our first speech night of the year, these six student speakers took it to the next level! Thank you to all our amazing speakers for their honesty and willingness to share their stories with us, the audience. Thank you, also, to all our guest coaches, volunteers, and students for making an attentive audience for the speakers and for all the encouragement you shared.
If you are interested in joining us for next month’s speech night, please visit our website to see available upcoming speech nights. We’d love to have you!