Friends Academy students present kindness-themed "FA Talks"

Feb 26, 2018

Friends Academy eighth graders lectured their fellow students how music, saying hello, and even video games can make the world a more positive place with the school’s own version of “TED Talks.”

The second annual “FA Talks” sessions were inspired by students’ past trip to New York City where the students toured the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The talks began in 2017 when 7th and 8th grade teacher Marlaina Trepanier felt the students needed to become more acquainted with public speaking.

For this year’s talks, Trepanier, said students were “inspired by the museum’s message, which was that out of the ashes of something tragic beautiful things can be created.”

This is where Trepanier got the idea to host the talks around the theme of kindness and creating a better world. She challenged the kid to come up with their own idea for presentations based on the theme.

Seven subcategories relating to the theme were established. They included, “Saying Hello,” “How Music Can Change the World,” and “Being Kind Online,” among others. Overall there were 26 presentations. They each ranged in time from two minutes and 30 seconds to over 10 minutes.

The process involves students finding a subject their passionate about. Then they spent months researching primary sources to use in their speeches, and practiced speaking them.

Trepanier said the talk helps them find their voice and understand the influence they can have on something.

“I’m hoping that they learn from this how powerful language is and how powerful one person’s voice can be,” Trepanier said. “I think especially considering the news and how powerful students voices are just in this past week and the change they are trying to evoke. I’m hoping it inspires them to see they can do the same thing.”

The biggest challenge of the project was helping the students find their confidence, according to Trepanier. However, that is part of the normal process of public speaking.

Mia Shih did her speech on how music benefits communication.

In her presentation she spoke about the various benefits of using music as a communication tool, especially when people may not be able to articulate what someone is saying because of a language barrier.

Even though Shih was nervous on stage she said “trying to figure out an idea that would relate to kindness and that people could relate to themselves and use in their everyday lives, not just something that I find interesting” was the hardest aspect of the project.

Reed Turner-Murray joked his way through his speech. His presentation centered on figuring out if a pet was right for someone and then which kind of pet was best. During his speech he told audience members how he had four cats currently. He also joked how his mom once took their cat for a hike, leaving their then dog in the car.

Turner-Murray said this years theme was a good one because it forced more creativity among the participants.

“It forces people to kind of be inventive,” Turner-Murray said. “They take the themes and try to put their own spin on it, put their own personal ideas into trying to fit them with the them. It makes you think outside the box.”