Seniors Present 2022 Hemenway Speeches

Thursday, April 21—During Assembly, six Winsor seniors took the stage in the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Theater to compete in the 109th Annual Hemenway Prize for Speaking Competition. Abigail Bohl ’22, Annika Goldstein ’22, Maita Mungah ’22, Nadia Piecyk ’22, Kayla Springer ’22, and Katherine Torres ’22, were selected by a panel of judges, with input from all Class VIII students, after hearing speeches from all 63 members of the senior class. 

Head of School Sarah Pelmas introduced the seniors and spoke about the history of this annual competition and its roots in the Winsor value of speaking one’s mind. Student topics included something that they have learned, something that matters to them, or something they want others to understand from their perspective. 

More than just a platform for soon-to-be graduates to showcase writing and presentation skills, the competition is a unique and powerful bonding experience. For one day each spring, the entire senior class comes together in the theater, and listens intently as every member of the class delivers their own thoughtfully crafted, five-minute speech. “Individually the speeches are smart, heartfelt, inspiring, and thoughtful,” shared Ms. Pelmas, who listened to all 63 speeches.

This year’s finalists shared stories that ranged from comical to serious, exploring topics such as teen driving and the pursuit of perfection, bad hair days and the fear of failure, hyperfixation and the beauty in neurodivergence, self-discovery through the dual identities of being Catholic and queer, practicing patience while embracing the cultural forces around us, and questioning why we rely on external forces for validation and happiness.
The faculty judges for this year's competition are Felicia Brady Lopez and Julian Braxton. The speeches are judged based on substance, organization, style, presentation, and clarity. The winner of today’s presentations will be announced at the Awards Celebration in June.
Established by an original Corporator, Harriett Hemenway, the Hemenway Prize for Speaking Competition traces its roots to 1913. The competition challenges seniors to develop and deliver a speech of substance, and reflects Winsor's long-held belief in the importance of public speaking skills and the ability to speak one's mind. A strong, outspoken woman and animal rights activist, Ms. Hemenway founded the Mass. Audubon Society in the late 1800s.