Freshmen students in Fairmont Preparatory Academy’s Strategies for Success course ended the year by presenting short speeches to their classmates regarding the key lessons they learned — both in the class and in general — during the first year of high school.
After three drafts and peer editing, each underclassman came fully prepared and had practiced his or her speech numerous times in order to be ready on presentation day. Course teacher Joseph Massimini had copies of all students’ written speeches and followed along as they spoke to the class in order to make sure they didn’t stray too far from what they had originally crafted.
Mr. Massimini hoped that the students would be able to use this assignment to appreciate the growth they made from being in school and that they would be creative in how they captivated their audience’s attention. After all, they weren’t allowed any visuals in their three- to four-minute speeches.
Mr. Massimini said he was glad that each student had his or her own unique takeaway from the year, and he was also able to take a lesson away from this assignment for himself.
“I learned that it’s as important for students to reflect on their learning process as it is for the process to happen,” he said. “It makes students the captains of their personal learning adventures.”
As a result of these adventures, most students mentioned that they had acquired much more knowledge and life skills pertaining to physical and emotional health, topics they had covered heavily in class over the course of the year. They pointed out how their health both impacts and is impacted by various other aspects of their lives. One student even encouraged his peers by reminding them that they would continue to feel much better if they maintain healthy lifestyles with the proper fuel in their diets.
“You’re practically Superman,” Daniel Lewis joked.
Other students further stressed the importance of healthy lifestyles and study habits, whether it be through adding more hours to their sleep regimes (and spending less time playing video games until the wee hours of the morning), improving test-taking abilities with the use of Cornell notes, refining writing skills, or adapting to the changes that continue to take place as individuals (particularly teenagers) continue to grow and change.
Emily Tai was full of energy when she spoke to her fellow classmates, and she mentioned that high school was not as scary as she had originally been led to believe when she was in junior high. In fact, she discovered that it was much more enjoyable, especially when she realized that she had more in common with many of her peers than she thought she would.
“Even though it’s not like High School Musical,” she said, “we’re all in this together.”