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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Speak Up for Change week spreads message through assemblies

After a long three-day weekend, students filed into the Large Gym on Jan. 20, half-asleep and exhausted.

Much to their surprise, they were presented with the dignified, exciting motivational speaker Keith Hawkins, who interlaced humor with stories about his children and a never-emptying cup to teach them about enjoying the lives they currently have and helping those who are less fortunate.

As everyone left the gym after the assembly, Hawkins’s words resonating in their minds, the first day of Speak Up for Change week began.

The Speak Up for Change week, themed “Ignite Your Spark,” took place between  Jan. 20-23. Wednesday and Thursday kept the normal block schedule, while Tuesday and Friday had special schedules to accommodate the activities held those days.

The events in the week were organized by members of the Leadership class. According to junior Luke Salin, Leadership met Hawkins at a previous National Leadership Conference in Disneyland.

“We really liked his message and working with him that day,” Salin said. “So [assistant principal Kerry] Mohnike went ahead and booked him for Speak Up for Change.”   

Students generally had a positive response to the first assembly. Senior John Lee believed that Hawkins was a huge improvement over previous speakers with his warm personality and his ability to appeal to students.

“His speech was engaging, bringing my friends and I to actually listen to what he had to say, especially with his  funny stories and jokes,” Lee said. “Overall, the way he delivered the message was motivational while not containing a boring atmosphere, and I think that's what it takes to be one of the best speakers in the world.”

The Friday asembly featured alumni David Mandell and Brandon Oliveri, who spoke about combating their personal challenges and encouraged students to pursue the careers they like. Seniors Shreyes Balebail and Carmine Drohan also shared their personal stories of troubles they’ve faced and advised students to speak up if they need help.

“The speakers were all really inspiring and interesting,” said junior Aakash Thumaty. “I never knew about what some of these people went through, and now I want to be more aware about what everyone goes through.”

Although some of the content for the Speak Up for Change week remained largely the same as previous year, Salin said Leadership tried new things to excite students and drive home the “Ignite Your Spark” theme.

In addition to the assemblies, teachers taught lessons throughout the week to help students discover their passions and follow them.

“Each department is geared towards using the classes’ topics to discover [the students’] passions,” Salin said. “[The Leadership class] worked hard on making the in-class lesson plans very accessible to teachers and hopefully that will work out.”

With the huge amount of work and effort put into organizing the week’s events, Salin says that the effort paid off and the event was in parts better than that of previous years.

“I thought [Hawkins] did a really good job [and] was a huge improvement from [the speaker] last year,” Salin said. “Students and staff are starting to like [the event] more and more. It’s a nice break in the year, and it’s pretty gratifying to be done and know [the event] went well.”

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