Speaking Their Truths: Students Converge on Campus For Inaugural, Regional Oratorical Competition

Speaking Their Truths: Students Converge on Campus For Inaugural, Regional Oratorical Competition
Speaking Their Truths: Students Converge on Campus For Inaugural, Regional Oratorical Competition

They ranged in age from single digits to 18. They came from Goleta, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley towns, and from Dunn School dormitories. 

Some passionately delivered speeches on poignant and contemporary human rights issues specific to workers, women, and historically marginalized peoples across the globe. Others put their own touches on iconic speeches and seminal writings by historic figures. A few spoke extemporaneously, selecting from a list of topics supplied by judges.

All told, nearly 40 student orators from six different schools — encompassing elementary, middle, and secondary levels — converged on campus Sunday and Monday to compete in the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Invitational tournament, to honor the epochal human rights champion.

"Last year my mentor, Mr. Tommie Lindsey, suggested that we bring speech and debate to the Central Coast," said Dunn Head of School, Kal Balaven. "I took inspiration from him to begin our own speech invitational here at Dunn School. He believed as I do that, 'Each student’s voice is like a drum, and that when we allow them to speak, we can hear the rhythm for change.' ” 

That percussion percolated and reverberated across campus, as contestants vied in multiple rounds for trophies in original oratory, interpretive speech, and impromptu categories. Educators from various Santa Barbara County schools and the Dunn School served as judges.

Students represented Santa Barbara Middle School, Santa Barbara High School, Dos Pueblos High School, The Santa Ynez Valley Family School, and Dunn's Upper and Middle Schools. On the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday Monday, many winners in their respective age levels and categories gave their speeches at the Cindy Bronfman Leadership Center, before the entire Dunn School community.

Also on Monday, at Santa Barbara's Arlington Theatre, Dunn 8th grade student Benke S. made his impactful voice heard in a public ceremony hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Santa Barbara Committee. Benke recited his winning essay in that organization's annual writing contest. U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal also formally acknowledged Benke, awarding him a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for "outstanding and invaluable service to the community."

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Dunn Middle School Office:

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