Speech and Debate’s speak week encourages young students to use their voice

Lauren Serge | Staff Writer

Public speaking can be a fear for many, but this week Speech and Debate plans on helping younger students overcome their fright.

For the past seven years, Speech and Debate team has hosted Speak Week at the high school — a camp that aims to help younger children enhance their speech skills through activities and debate exercises. This year the camp took place from July 24-28.

Seniors Pra Chati and Suraj Komatineni were leaders of the camp, and taught the students posture techniques to help them carry themselves while they speak. Chati said he gives the students practice speeches that allow them to utilize the new skills they’ve obtained throughout the camp.

“We do activities based on the seven fundamentals of speaking like: eye contact, inflection and gestures, and we do exercises such as tongue twisters to help improve linguistic speed,” Chati said.

While many of the students initially feared public speaking, Chati said the camp provides them with a confidence boost as they become more comfortable with their surroundings.

“We’ve had a lot of students that come in here very quiet, but as you ease them into the environment, they start realizing they can take more chances here,” Chati said. “It’s a safe place to speak out loud.”

While the leaders can gain new skills from the camp, Komatineni — who attended the camp a couple years ago — said the development he sees through the students is most rewarding.

“By the end of the week we are able to get the kids to engage in a full debate that’s confident and contains all the proper public speaking skills,” Komatineni said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to extend Mason’s speech and debate into the community and give people an avenue to build their confidence.”

11-year-old Eden Orr said she signed up for the camp to increase her comfort with speaking in front of large groups; Orr said the activities and overall energy within the camp gave her a gratifying experience throughout the week.

“The leaders and the exercises make the camp a lot more energetic and interactive,” Orr said. “It was really fun and I think it helped me a lot.”

Click on an image to enlarge and view in slideshow mode.

Photos by Rahul Parikh.