John Hersey High School freshmen ended the school year delivering speeches that inspired civic responsibility among their classmates.
As part of the curriculum of Hersey’s Written and Oral Communication course, students prepared Call to Action speeches that incorporated critical thinking and research on a local or global program that needed solving.
Students then looked for an organization working to solve the problem and passionately requested their classmates to help through their speeches.
"The Call to Action Speech promotes civic responsibility, allows our high school students to investigate and research a topic that resonates deeply within them and provides an understanding that each of us can make a difference in the world,” said Lara Becker, a Hersey English and acting teacher. “Thus, this is the ultimate goal of education."
At the end of the speeches, students vote on the best speaker or cause and collect money to send to that organization. Many of the teachers double what the class has collected.
Hersey students Alexandra Widomska and Trey Schmidt chose topics that hit close to home.
Widomska spoke about Project Heal, a not-for-profit organization that raises money for those suffering with eating disorders who want to recover but are unable to afford treatment. After seeing a friend battle anorexia, Widomska said she wanted to teach others about what they can to do help.
“I wanted people to speak up and say ‘You don’t have to look like a Barbie doll or a model. You should be yourself,’” said Widomska, 15, of Mount Prospect.
Schmidt presented on Salute, Inc., a non-profit organization started by Arlington Heights residents that provides financial support for military members. Schmidt, who volunteers for Salute, said he wanted to learn more about veterans and what they face when they return from war because his grandfather served in the military.
Both students said they plan to raise awareness for the causes they chose.
“After researching veterans for this speech, I care so much more,” said Schmidt, 15, of Arlington Heights. “I feel like I can make a difference in their lives.”