Jacob Whitney ’17 Wins Fall Woodbury 2015 with Speech on Anxiety

On the first morning back after a relaxing five day Thanksgiving break, the entire community gathered in the chapel to hear three speeches from the fall Woodbury finalists, DJ Demetri, William Ryan, and Jacob Whitney.

DJ led off with a speech discussing how family should always come first, and related it to the recent Thanksgiving holiday and his family’s traditions and experiences. He described how one year, the stuffing, his family’s most valued portion of the meal, didn’t come out like usual, which led to a series of other unfortunate events that day. However, DJ explained that, even though everything was not perfect that year, more memories of spending time with family were formed, because simply spending time with one’s family is more important than any other portion of Thanksgiving.

Next up was Will Ryan, who described how all Belmont Hill students, and young men everywhere, need to be more willing to cry and show emotion. Will told his own story of bottling up his sadness for many years because society taught boys that they should not cry. He eventually moved past this irrational fear after crying tears of joy on a beach over the summer, and realizing that tears were not the end of the world. Will then described how he cried after his brother went to college because he would miss his brother, and that was perfectly acceptable, and prompted everyone at Belmont Hill to worry less about bottling up their emotions.

Jacob Whitney closed out the day by exploring the topic of anxiety. He talked about how, in his preliminary round speech, he was so stressed that afterwards he could only recall the smallest mistakes he made instead of looking at the bigger picture. Furthermore, Jacob explained, if he did not have his speech printed out in front of him at that moment, he would be so crippled by fear he would not be able to say anything. However, he went on to say that without the inevitable anxiety that comes with many activities, including public speaking, sports, or a test, are simply part of life. Jacob finished his speech by advocating for everyone to face their fears instead of avoiding them, and described how only then can one overcome them.

In the end, there could only be one winner, and Jacob Whitney received the honor.

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