Ken George’s English 10 classes present individual, education-altering ideas to school administrators

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

The voice of a student gives way to change in the eyes of those who are capable of making it happen.

As students in Ken George’s English classes prepare for their end-of-the-year TED Talks, their public speaking skills were tested this past week as they presented individual ideas they would like to change within the district or school to administrators.

“Students did a great job with their research and their thoughtfulness behind some of the school improvement ideas,” principal Steve Passinault said. “That was good to see.”

Closing up their lesson on persuasive appeals, groups were divided by pods and allowed a topic they are passionate about changing in regards to their education.

Groups could discuss school starting time, the form of student schedules, the possibility of homerooms, potential extension of lunch periods, additional furniture in open spaces of the school, and many other ideas researched and presented to administrators.

“I think it’s always a healthy thing to be evaluating what can be better or what can change, especially hearing it from the students,” counselor Kyle Perkins said. “Some of the things they brought up, I would never think of as being something they didn’t like or something that they would want to change. It’s great to hear their opinions and thoughts. Some of the groups were very impressive. They did lots of research and had sources. A few of them even talked about state law, so they knew the facts. I was very impressed.”

While it was a unique experience for the counselors and administrators, it also gave students a real live audience to persuade.

“I felt like I could be more of myself in front of [the counselors] and explain my opinion better,” sophomore Tommy Spaletto said. “Having their presence there, I can give more of my opinion because I think they’re interested in what students say.”

I think it’s always a healthy thing to be evaluating what can be better or what can change, especially hearing it from the students.

— Kyle Perkins

At the end of the year, George’s students will have to perform a long, rehearsed speech by themselves in front of a large audience based on TED Talks.

Until then, they must prepare themselves by learning positive public speaking skills. Through this project, sophomore Karly Chudik expresses that she has learned the do’s and don’ts of public speaking, “good public speaking skills,” and how to be comfortable in front of a real live audience that is genuinely taking in their ideas instead of simply for a participation grade.

“I love to listen to students share opinions and ideas about how to make the school better,” Passinault said. “We are here for the students as administrators or teachers; we are here for them. The more that we can do this kind of thing, the better off students will be.”