After being away from campus for six months in quarantine due to COVID-19, we were blessed with the Fall Woodbury Competition in the newly renovated chapel. Normally, the whole school would gather in the chapel to watch the Woodbury speeches live, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, not all students could hear the speeches from inside the chapel, with the exception of the speakers’ advisory groups. The remainder of the student body was able to watch the inspiring speeches from separate classrooms through a livestream.
After two rousing speeches last year in both rounds of the Woodbury Contests, Junior Will Smith ’22 returned to the stage to deliver another masterful oration. In his speech, he used an analogy of rocket science to emphasize the need to plan ahead, both in personal and professional lives and in humanity’s great endeavors like space exploration.
Yazeed Dahleh ‘21 described the regret of avoiding his grandfather during his childhood after he died from a heart attack. He portrayed his experience as a kid after his grandfather immigrated to the United States from Morocco to receive better healthcare and how his grandfather took all of the parental attention away from his eight grade self.
Jacob Czarnecki ’22 hit the stage and put his memorization skills to work, as he talked about his deep interest in tomatoes. As Jacob went into the history of the tomato and how it once was thought to be poison he expressed his interest in gardening and specifically tomatoes.
Daniel Moran ’23 confidently took to the Woodbury stage, leaving his comfort zone to express his thoughts and experience dealing with his mom who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. He thoroughly explained how he went through this time of grief and how he turned his anger into motivation for himself and for others.
Wilton Lawton ’22, the last participant of the semi-finals, gave a speech about losing his grandfather and grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease, which led him to his scientific aspirations. Wil’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease draws him to a future in medicine, with hopes of finding a cure.
First to appear for the finals, Jacob Czarnecki, the eventual winner, portrayed how the COVID guidelines restricted us from leaving our homes. Jacob went on to describe how the only people we have seen for the past six months are our neighbors. He went into depth describing the relationships he has formed with his neighbors though their mutual love for dogs. Jacob encouraged people to get outside and meet new neighbors.
Daniel Moran returned for the finals with a new piece of writing, reflecting on his previous semi-finals speech. He described his second thoughts about expressing how he felt in front of the whole school. He portrayed how he reacted to his mom getting stage four breast cancer and how he changed his anger towards the illness to love for his mom. Daniel encouraged people to do the same. “So please, all I ask, learn to learn, learn to learn from the people in your lives, and learn to love.”
The final speech of the Fall Woodbury, given by Wilton Lawton, portrayed how anxiety is a serious illness through an analogy to sailing. Wil went on to talk about how anxiety affects millions of people. He encouraged the school community to speak up and get treated instead of hiding it and letting it worsen. Wil got out of his comfort zone to motivate kids to do what he did himself, deal with it head on.
The winner of the Woodbury speeches, chosen by the five faculty judges, was Jacob Czarnecki. Jacob’s excellent delivery on both of his speeches stood out from the other finalists. Ms. Zener stated that “anybody who gives a speech is a winner and I hope it is on their bucket list.” Despite the COVID restrictions, we are excited to be back in the Chapel for these wonderful speeches. Hopefully you all are looking forward to the Winter Woodbury Speeches come February!