On February 25, Upper School orators Jack Daley ‘17, Armin Thomas ‘17, and Donavan Payne ‘18 returned to the Chapel stage for the 2017 Winter Woodbury Finals. Following a strong fall edition and equally impressive winter semi-final round of Belmont Hill’s bi-annual public-speaking competition, the three finalists skillfully delivered their speeches on a host of topics this winter: from the importance of preparation to childhood memories playing board games with family. After an impressive speech to cap off the competition, Daley clinched the top prize, having returned to the podium this year as a veteran Woodbury speaker.
Armin Thomas began the Chapel with an exciting tale of his adventures in camping. Having to square off and outwit a bear, he ended his speech by championing the importance of being prepared. Donavan Payne followed with a compelling oration about the importance of empathizing with protesters — as he explained, it is important “to recognize that the ‘goggles’ through which you see the world may differ from the views of others. We should remove our goggles and reserve our judgements to commit ourselves to seeing how someone else constructs their world.”
Rounding off the finals, Jack Daley recounted his earliest memories of his uncle to an attentive audience, explaining the stark differences in political beliefs between his liberal-leaning parents and conservative-minded Uncle Frank. Daley maintained that “Americans across the political spectrum have more in common than we [sic] think, we are capable of understanding and respecting one another, while also learning from each other in substantial ways.
“In short,” ended Daley, “life is more meaningful when we resist the urge to make negative assumptions about people, seek to find common ground, and take the time to walk a mile in each others shoes.”
In an interview with The Panel, Jack remarked that he wouldn’t have expected himself to have tried out for the Woodbury’s; nevertheless, after being persuaded by Dr. Tift in his American Literature class junior year, Daley decided to try out for the competition with an essay he wrote in the class.
Ultimately, Jack beamed that he “came away with confidence in public speaking and in myself,” wholeheartedly encouraging all rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors to consider trying out for the competition next fall.