‘Talking Pictures’ highlights the power of public speaking

‘Talking Pictures’ highlights the power of public speaking

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but imagery and oration proved a powerful combination during the Talking Pictures presentation held April 28 in the CFA’s Hale Theater. 

The annual public speaking event is the culmination of a gradewide assignment in which all sophomores write an essay that reflects on a favorite photograph. Students read their essays aloud in class to explain the importance of their photograph and the “moment in time” that the photo captures. Each of the English II sections then selects a representative to perform in front of the entire 10th grade class. 

The eight sophomores selected this year were: Kenzie Murphy, Ellie Louvar, Renee Martel, Ned Hentschel, Brooke McHugh, Anthony Feliciano, Luke Driscoll, and Kiley Gilbert. They employed a variety of still photographs, each of which was projected on a screen behind them, but more importantly employed all the tools in the rhetorical toolbox to convey their messages to appreciative audience members. No subject was too personal for these brave speakers who addressed topics such as the loss of a loved one, the evolution of sibling relationships, the need for courage in addressing self-esteem issues, the transformative power of a young but supportive family, the mercurial nature of memory, and even the magic of a bumblebee dress to remind a person of who she really is. 

“We are thrilled to share these photographs, these stories, and these speakers,” said Upper School English Faculty Maureen Keleher P ‘24, ‘26, ‘28, ‘29, who helped to coordinate both the gradewide assignment and the April 28 event with Upper School English Faculty Joe Pelletier, the event’s organizer. The assignment itself has its roots in the 1990s when then English Faculty Jim King P ‘01, ‘04, ‘06, using the book Talking Pictures as inspiration, asked sophomores to mount a photo and text on poster board; these works were then hung on the second-floor walls of Main Building. The assignment has since evolved and added its public speaking element. 

The Talking Pictures presentation represents the sophomore component of Thayer’s commitment to leadership communication and public speaking across all grade levels. The sequenced array of curricular opportunities, which begins with the Declamation Celebration at the Middle School, develops not only effective public presentation skills but highlights the art of storytelling, the value of connecting with multiple audiences, and the importance of articulating ideas in impactful ways. 

front row: (left to right) Kenzie Murphy, Ellie Louvar, Renee Martel
back row: (left to right) Luke Driscoll, Brooke McHugh, Anthony Feliciano, Kiley Gilbert, Ned Hentschel


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