Out of the Mouths of Seniors

My speech and debate class have been giving speeches the last few days. 

Today I had a beautiful, poised girl give a speech on body modification–as in piercing, tattoos, ear stretching, and scarification. She began by warning us about all the inherent dangers, plus potential employment and/or credibility related problems in the future. The irony is that this girl has more modified body parts than I have natural digits. 

I kind of wanted to cry.  She is so beautiful. So smart. Such poise–and she understands exactly what the risks and consequences of her decisions are. But on it goes. She invited me to touch her blown out ear. 

Then there’s the exchange student from Columbia who gave a presentation on all the beautiful, wonderful things about her country, because she can see the prejudice in American eyes when she says, “Columbia.” It was a stunning presentation–and her English was almost flawless.

There was a boy who rarely speaks. Who sits at the back when he comes, and who got up and kept his head down while he began. But then suddenly he threw his head back, let go of the podium and his notes, asked for a whiteboard marker, and presented about the most effective ways to the most out of your cannabis. He spoke at length on its almost miraculous properties–and drew detailed diagrams on the board regarding technique. It was the most alive I’ve seen him all year.

He began shaking like a leaf when he sat down, and I thought he might cry.

It took courage for him to speak at all.  So what if it took this topic to crack him out of his shell? Was that wrong to permit a mini Weed101 course in my fourth period?

He put up his hand at the end of class.

“Mrs. Lybbert?”


“Are you going to give a speech?”


The entire class chimed in that it’s only fair–if I expect them to do it, I should too.  And so far, this year, I have–everything I’ve asked them to do, I’ve done first, because I know how terrifying it is to get up in front of people and tell an impromptu story or argue on the side of a debate I don’t agree with.  But a speech. 


Topics anyone?

3 responses to “Out of the Mouths of Seniors

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