‘Inspiring change and action’

Students present their ideas for change at SHS


Photo Contributed by Brian Knight

Junior Zach Chambers presents his idea for change. These ideas were presented to Principal Brian Knight with the hope to enact change in the building.

Dress code, support systems and class selection are just a few of the topics students think need to change at SHS.

English teacher Jessi Walpole had her students make presentations on changes that they wish to see within the school and within student communities as well. 

Walpole says they are taking Patrick Henry’s speech in the Virginia Convention and applying the devices used within his speech to write their own speeches. Such devices are repetition, restatement, parallelism and rhetorical questions. 

“We used the two texts to think about how they use these devices in their language to inspire change and action in their time,” Walpole said. 

According to Walpole, the students presented a variety of different topics. Among these were equity in dress code enforcement, a support system for students who have endured some form of sexual assault or harassment at school and class selection based on career interests that are more geared towards what students want to do instead of  the standard classes that everyone takes. 

Walpole said if the topics the students chose were over school related issues they would possibly get a chance to send them to administration for feedback. That idea then turned into Principal Brian Knight coming into the classes and watching the presentations himself. 

“They got really excited about that opportunity,” Walpole said.

While they were pumped up, some of the students said that they were also nervous for this opportunity to present in front of Knight. Junior Kaitlynn Miner says while she is normally outgoing while doing speeches, she was a bit more anxious during this speech. 

“In a normal speech environment I’m usually really hyper, I’m a little nervous but I just like to get it done.” Miner said. “But when you’re presenting to someone with that much authority it’s really nerve racking. You just get the jitters.”

On the other hand, Junior Tanner Percifield didn’t think much of it, saying it was just like any other speech. 

“It was okay,” Percifield said. “It was like doing a regular speech in speech class, just you had more of an authority in there. That made it feel like it mattered more than like a regular speech.”

Although this project started small, the passion poured into it was evident and it eventually grew into something that could benefit those around them. 

Junior Khilee Culberson chose her speech over the dress coding policy, in the sense of everyone being treated equally on what they are wearing no matter what they look like.

“I was really nervous…” Culberson said. “ (But) I took a deep breath and I did it because I knew that change needed to happen.”