Rhetoric Team (8th-12th grade) – Open to all homeschoolers
Teacher: Barb Varnell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit: 1/4 credit for the entire year
Meets: The following Wednesdays from 2 to 3:30 at MSA (Newark Church of Christ)
– September 14, October 12, November 16, December 14, January 11, February 1, March
1, March 29, and May 3
Optional competitions will be held on Wednesday afternoon February 15 and April 26
Attention all high school students! Did you know that most colleges require a public
speaking course at some point in your college career? In addition, if you go to ANY
college for ANY major, you WILL be doing some type of classroom presentation. You
need to make sure you are comfortable speaking in front of people.
Even if you are not college-bound, there is the possibility that you may have to teach
Sunday School, go on a missions trip, present an idea before your boss, go into business
for yourself, pray in front of people, or be called to give your testimony. All of these
require speaking in front of others. Those people who do this well will be the people who
become leaders and culture changers for Christ.
The Mount Sophia Academy Rhetoric Team (a fancy name for the speech team) is here
to give you opportunities to learn how to feel more comfortable speaking in front of
people. The Rhetoric Team has a dual purpose – the first is to offer the students the
opportunity to learn how to speak in front of people in a very low-key environment at its
monthly meetings. We do this as a combination of teaching and fun speaking exercises.
In our monthly meetings, we train you to prepare speeches and presentations and
practice exercises that will help desensitize you to speaking in public (while we have
fun doing it). Even students who are scared silly have found that they can get
comfortable with speaking before a group (some of them still may not like it, but they
can do it).
The Rhetoric Team’s second purpose is to offer the opportunity to participate in a
number of different competitions (competitions look great on your high school
transcript – especially public speaking ones). We will offer two optional competitions a
year. These competition categories include humorous interpretation, dramatic
interpretation, reader’s theater, interpretation of children’s literature, persuasive
speeches, descriptive speeches, individual acting, duet acting, TV news team, and visual
Participation in speech-related activities in high school is HIGHLY desirable to colleges.
Colleges are looking for students to participate for MULTIPLE YEARS in the same
activity, and the low-key nature of our team allows students to do this while fitting in all
the academics they need.
The meetings include my teaching about some aspect of public speaking, but the bulk of
the meeting consists of the students participating in various speaking exercises. Each
student will do some type of speaking exercise(s) EVERY meeting; there will be plenty of
opportunities during the school year for them to get comfortable with speaking in front
of people, even if they don’t participate in the competitions. The exercises are not intense
but are meant to encourage each student to grow and become better. I only have a few rules
for the team:
- Everyone who is at the meeting MUST participate in the speaking exercises.
- No talking when someone else is speaking up front (this includes using cell
- Everyone must smile and nod encouragingly at the speaker.
The team is a very supportive environment and includes students who have a variety of
skill levels. I have students there who are literally shaking in their shoes the first time
they get up and speak as well as students who have gone on to compete at the national
levels in college (even one who has traveled around the world on the Air Force Academy
debate team). We have something for everyone! Most of my students participate
each year they are in high school, which allows them to really improve (and looks good
to colleges and scholarship committees).
Most students who have participated have said that Rhetoric was one of the most
valuable things they have done because they became comfortable being able to speak in
any situation in which God has led them in life. We have seen students blossom from
being terrified into confident speakers. All this in a supportive environment where
everyone is rooting for you to succeed (because everyone is in the same boat – group
suffering is a wonderful thing!)