Written by student contributors: Gregg Skowronksi, Emma Kessler, Haley Behn, Charlotte Thompson, Naomi Cormier, Jono Gross and Emily Myers.

On Wednesday, April 25, the seventh-graders at Harwood Union Middle School participated in a final event ending the second annual Oratorical unit.

Eight students-selected by their classmates and teachers-delivered speeches on wide-ranging topics, each one selected and researched by the individual. Topics ranged from the history of Google to colorblindness to roller coasters.

In fact, all of the seventh-graders had been working on "Oratoricals" for five weeks. Each student chose a topic that was important to him or her; for some, this was a hard step with many choices, but for others it was easy. Students spent four days in the school library, working closely with Ms. Hennessey, especially using the databases and other resources online. While researching and writing three to five minutes speeches, classes took time to watch many speeches and discusses positives and negatives in the delivery styles of each.

Each speech was revised to use hooks and pauses to keep the audience engaged and to add emphasis on important words or phrases.

Then it was time to practice public speaking! Many were nervous, but the dreaded day of presentation would come for everyone, so students practiced ways to lower the stress of being at the podium. In T.A. (teacher advisory), students told jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters. In Humanities they played "Hot Seat" in which a person would choose a topic out of a hat and try to speak spontaneously as an expert on that topic for two minutes without stopping! Another fun activity in Humanities was reading poetry or news articles with a mouthful of candy, gum, or marshmallows to practice enunciation.

Finally everyone delivered to his/her Humanities class. The topics were awesome and very diverse, but each day the students voted for a favorite speech. These votes later were combined with teacher advisors' votes and Mr. Potts' vote to choose finalists to compete in the speech contest. The seventh-grade area was silent during afternoon announcements for the first time ever!

Finalists in the second annual Harwood Oratorical were Naomi Cormier, Tracy Guion, Louie Brown, Cassidy Cote, Savannah Morehouse, Chelsea Stanclift, Emily E. Hewitt, Emi Hewitt and Lee Gubernick.

And the results: winner, Hannah Ferenc; runner-up, Emily Myers; second runner-up, Rachel Krcmar.