Virtual Senior Speeches Mark a Loss in Blake Upper School Community

New virtual senior speech format causes for lost tradition

Nina Bush, Contributing Writter

Despite any aspects of senior year changing or being removed, Blake has tried to maintain the same level of importance in senior speeches by moving them online. This shift has resulted in mixed emotions, especially because these speeches act as a rite of passage and many students aren’t able to experience it in the same way that they would have had they been in person. 

Senior speeches also mark an opportunity for the entire upper school to come together to hear from our seniors, building our community more.  Maddie Pekarek ‘21 thinks that virtual assemblies have reduced this connection, explaining “the…whole notion of people speaking in front of others is really important because anyone can kind of speak in front of a computer…it’s definitely worse off in the long run to do all online and people should definitely have to get up in front of a live audience because it is a big growth moment.” By having assemblies online, speakers lose the feeling of an audience. 

 Pekarek “actually liked” giving an online speech: “I felt like there was less pressure and it was very informal…I think it will be easier for a lot of people and definitely more convenient.” She also said that losing the “live audience part” will not be as large of an issue as many thought it would be, suggesting the speeches still carry the same weight and importance. Baig also sees similar aspects. She explains that “they did a good job of building it up the same way and treating it with the same importance” and that “give[ing] it on something that is of your choice kind of makes it that rite of passage because you have to choose what you want to do.” In addition to this, virtual senior speeches have helped the seniors “[be] able to present [themselves] well on zoom,” teaching them skills for college interviews and important meetings during the pandemic, meaning that the online format is not all bad.