One student plans to talk about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, his favorite anime. Another will give a speech on the benefits of ebooks. A third student will discuss environmental issues.
All of these speeches will be part of a new speaking competition at Ojai Valley School called Spud Talks, a public speaking platform that will give the student body the ability to share their individual ideas and individual identities. Participants are able to choose their own topics, which will all come under the larger theme of “Retrospect.”
There will be two rounds for Spud Talks: the first will take place after Thanksgiving break and the second round will be in March. Both rounds will be held in the amphitheater at the Upper Campus. Ultimately, these speeches will serve as a competition, and at the end of the year, the winner will receive the first ever OVS Public Speaking award.
There is no specific requirement to participate in the talk, and this year nine students have signed up.
The idea of Spud Talks was proposed last year by Class of 2019 alum Soham Kondle, the former President of the student council.
“I wanted to have a TED Talks type thing at OVS, I thought this could be cool,” Soham said. “I wanted OVS to be on the map.”
The project formally got off the ground this year, when senior Carter Hsu and Assistant Head of school Crystal Davis created the Spud Talks platform. The hope is that this will become an annual public speaking contest, in which more students are encouraged to be the speakers and talk about anything they feel is important.
“I believe Spud Talks is an innovative, inspiring event that can bring out the diversity to our campus,” Carter said.
Crystal Davis, as the faculty organizer of this program and the faculty member in charge of student life, considers Spud Talks to be a good experience for students, good preparation for college, and for life.
“I am pleased that Carter came up with it,” Ms. Davis said. “Because it is something we as faculty recognized that students don’t get enough experience in public speaking.”
Spud Talks is also educational for the student body, providing beneficial information and applicable life suggestions.
“I see this as an opportunity for our students to develop an interest in improving their abilities to communicate their ideas in a way it’s both interesting and persuasive,” Ms. Davis said.
Ms. Davis also came up with the idea of the “Student Committee,” which will be made up of 5 to 10 students who will evaluate how well the speakers perform in the first round. If they approve of the speaker, then they can advance to the second round, which will be held next semester.
For the March contest, a group of faculty will vote for who is qualified for the final prize, the “OVS Annual Public Speaking Award.” And the final result will be revealed at the awards ceremony the day before graduation.
Junior Oliver Chen is one of the speakers set to give a speech, and is looking forward to the first contest.
“I really want to train my public speaking skills, and share my story with others,” said Oliver, who is still deciding what to talk about. “Although I am a bit nervous about it, I can’t wait to deliver my speech.”
After looking at topics that people have submitted for their speeches, Ms. Davis is also really looking forward to listening to them.
“Students have submitted some really sophisticated and interesting topics that really exceeded my expectations for what they are going to do the first year,” Ms. Davis explained.
Created by an active member of the OVS community, Spud Talks not only provides an opportunity for students to improve their public speaking skills, it provides the opportunity for students to share their perspectives, dreams and stories.
“I am honored to have this chance to provide this opportunity for the whole student body to shine, to present themselves, to express, to be themselves,” Carter said.Share