2023 Middle School Declamation Celebration delivers
The words of Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others — not to mention the talents of 16 Middle School students — took center stage at the 37th annual Declamation Celebration held March 6 in the CFA’s Hale Theater.
“It’s not lost on me what a gift you shared today,” Middle School Director Galen Hamann told the 16 Middle School finalists shortly after their performances before their fellow students, faculty and staff, and invited family members. The Declamation Celebration caps off months of hard work among all Middle School students who are tasked with memorizing a passage from a speech, book, movie, or similar source and then performing it before an audience.
Middle School English Faculty and Director of Studies Brian Cibelli, who oversees Declamation, thanked everyone — from faculty and staff to encouraging families — for their collective efforts, but he reserved his highest praise for the students themselves.
“Each one of you should be proud of what you accomplished,” Cibelli told the finalists on stage and the students in the audience, “because we certainly are.”
The celebration contained a variety of performances, including poetry selections, Ted Talks, acceptance speeches, keynote addresses, diary entries, and excerpts from classic novels. Topics ranged from removing the stigma associated with mental illness to the importance of standing up for a cause to the mourning of a fallen president. One recitation even explained the perfect way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, with the underlying message of paying full attention to even the simplest of tasks.
The Declamation tradition is an integral part of Thayer’s focus on the development of effective communication skills in both divisions and across all grades.
The 2023 Declamation Celebration finalists and their performances:
Bridget Hegarty ‘28 — an excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Micah Wartman ‘30 — an excerpt from “The Grilled Cheese Principle” by Emily Schmitt Lavin
Charlie Bennett ‘29 — an excerpt from Meghan Markle’s 2015 speech at the United Nations Women’s Conference
Quentin Brown ‘27 — “Lucent,” a poem by Amanda Gorman
Thomas Casal ‘29 — an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 “Strength and Decency” speech
Xavier Ardayfio ‘30 — an excerpt from Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention
Maddy Call ‘28 — an excerpt from Barack Obama’s 2013 speech to the National Conference on Mental Health
Idalyn Chong ‘27 — an excerpt from Laura Gassner Otting’s TED Talk “Why Doesn’t Success Bring Happiness?”
Liv Talabi-Oates ‘29 — “Wake Up!”, a poem by Jesse Oliver
Katie Cedrone ‘27 — An excerpt from Simon Sinek’s TED TALK “Finding Your ‘Why’ in Difficult Times”
Hannah Currie ‘28 — An excerpt from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Henry Cohen ‘27 — An excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
Aashrita Joga ‘27 — An excerpt from George Saunders’ 2013 Commencement address at Syracuse University
Deniz Unal ‘28 — The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
Claire Dowden ‘30 — “Oh Captain! My Captain!”, a poem by Walt Whitman
Manny Chikwendu ‘27 — An excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech