Speak week builds public speaking skills

Jake Sapp | Staff Writer

The MHS Speech and Debate team is helping students find their voice.

From July 16th to 20th, the team held Speak Week, a camp where they assisted students with their public speaking abilities as well as engaging them in a wide variety of activities. Advisor for the Speech and Debate team, Bruce Harris, had a clear vision for what he wanted the students to achieve during the week.

“We want to help them to start acquiring public speaking skills,” Harris said. “We really hope that (public speaking) will help them to develop lifelong dividends. There are a lot of exciting prospects within this group we have this week.”

The camp consists of a variety of activities in order to teach the children a vast set of public speaking skills while keeping them engaged.

“We start with ice breaker activities, and then different speaking activities that build their confidence,” Harris said. “But I think that the most important thing of all is that the kids enjoy it, and are always smiling.”

The camp gave a chance for even the quietest students to speak up. Incoming 6th grader Shloka Narru said that the camp has helped her to come out of her shell and make her more confident.

“I am usually really shy, and I don’t like to talk out loud,” Narru said. “My dad sent me here to become a little more confident. This is a friendly place, so it’s a good place for to learn, and if I make any mistakes it’s okay.”


Junior Shriya Pemensta demonstrates public speaking techniques to the campers.


Harris wasn’t the only one supervising the camp; there were a number of Speech and Debate team members helping educate the campers as well. Junior Shriya Penmetsa, one of the team members, hoped to capture the energy of the kids and direct it in a positive manner.

“We try to do our best to be exciting,” Penmetsa said. “Alongside teaching them the different aspects of public speaking, we try to use games and stuff to keep them involved in fun little ways. Sometimes we’ll have them present commercials or play a name game so that we can keep the energy going.”

However, while running the camp there were some difficulties that the supervisors had to overcome.

“Sometimes there are one or two kids in the class that are really outgoing, but sometimes it can be distracting to the other kids,” Penmetsa said. “Sometimes there are a few kids in the group that aren’t very comfortable with speaking, so it’s hard to find a way to include them as well.”

While the goal of the camp may be to educate younger students, Penmetsa felt there were many things that she can take away from the experience too.

“Organizing it all is pretty hard,” Penmetsa said. “Having to work with people that are incoming freshmen gives us a good idea of what we will be working with in the near future in terms of team possibilities, as well as helping us to connect with them before they enter the team if they so choose.”


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