Senior speeches: what is the purpose?

Evin Nesburn , Editor-in-Chief

As the second year of the senior speeches program begins at Viewpoint, students are preparing to write and give their speeches in front of their cohort and in front of the whole school. The theme for this year, as last year, is “this I believe,” granting students a chance to explore a topic of their interest and share their values with the school. 

There are twelve cohorts, composed of roughly ten people each. Each cohort is assigned a cohort leader who aids members in developing their speeches and processing new ideas. In addition to a cohort leader, each student picks an advisor who further helps them with the process. Once each speech is written, each member of the cohort performs the speech in front of their group and another cohort. Both cohorts elect one member from each to give a speech in front of the whole upper school student body. 

Thus far, only one member from Cohort One has given a speech, but throughout this year, one member from each cohort will present their speech in front of the student body. Brach Shubin (‘20) took a unique approach to his speech, interweaving many different pieces to form his own rendition of “this I believe”. One of the most memorable parts was listening to his own poem:


“I believe that things don’t matter,

That sticks and stones my bones may shatter,

That sadness is simply all an illusion,

That what people call life is just confusion,

That these superficial things we strive for,

These looks, these grades, this stuff we adore,

To me it is truly all a bore.


I believe that we should smile,

And quick before our final trial,

We haven’t the time for all this folly,

Why not just drop the guise and act jolly,

Please friends, resort to laughter,

Before we are doomed to the hereafter.”


While the speech included a poem, words from other languages, made up words, and anecdotes, it concluded by thanking his peers for his time at Viewpoint, but did still include some of his own flair:

“What I’ve learned through Viewpoint has been incomparable, indescribable, indefinite, indigenous, modeflick, neoskizzle, encañenor, sooperotina, nakuranessa, grutaton, palporatoro, goocruxaste, mancantanyonee—tangularesta—achdefuumachnesusta, and educational. Thank you.”

Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, during I block, one member from each of the other eleven cohorts will continue to share what they believe. Mr. Feldsher, head of the senior speech program, explains that the purpose of senior speeches is that it “is meant to be a capstone to the Upper School experience at Viewpoint, challenging students to manifest the school’s mission to “Find your voice. Give your best. Go Beyond.” Giving a speech is certainly a great way to both find and use your voice. We choose the prompt, “This I Believe,” because the senior year is an inflection point for students when they naturally reflect upon who they are now and how they arrived. An added benefit of the program is that the presentation of the speeches enrich the entire community through the experience of hearing and acknowledging the diversity of perspectives and experiences –  voices — within it.”