Dwight Award Promotes Public Speaking

Dwight Award Promotes Public Speaking Skills

As Florida Prep underclassmen close out the year with their promotion to high school, it’s easy to assume the work is all done; it’s all over. However, for a small number of 8th grade students, this is a time of trepidation, deep thought and rehearsals.  It’s time once again for The Dwight Award.

Established in 1970 in memory of Florida Prep founder, Jonathan Dwight, the Dwight Award offers nominated students an opportunity to shine as public speakers and to compete against others in 8th grade for the honor of receiving the Dwight Award during the Middle School Graduation ceremony.

The competition, however, is not for the faint-hearted.

The students, Ashaunti Rolle, Daniel Rubenstein, Smyrna Troncoso, and Julian Waller were nominated by their collective teachers, and provided with a topic on which they would speak for at least 5 minutes – the topic: “What Florida Prep means to me.” Each presented their speech to a 6 member panel of administrators, after which they answered a series of follow-up questions from panel members. It’s a process that would challenge even a seasoned speaker! 

The winning student is announced during the Middle School Graduation ceremony and is invited to once again present his or her speech to the entire school population, administrators, faculty and guests.

It is no surprise that past winners of the Dwight Award have often gone on to become high achievers and leaders within the Florida Prep school community.  In fact, the Valedictorians of the past 2 years were both previous recipients of the Dwight Award.

Of course, there can be only one winner, but for the four nominees competing for the 2018 award they have already won something many will surely covet - the ability and confidence to stand before an audience and to speak with confidence!

Several polls conducted by the Gallup organization have confirmed the Fear of Public Speaking often outranks the Fear of Dying. Many adults cannot imagine themselves presenting to others, but like many talents it’s a learned art, one that requires poise, maturity and the ability to ‘think on your feet’. Students at Florida Prep learn all these skills through the 21st Century Skills and Values program which overlays much of our curriculum and includes public speaking as a key tenant.

For more information about this poll see https://brandongaille.com/14-fear-public-speaking-statistics/

Update May 25, 2018: The 2018 Dwight Award winner is Smyrna Troncoso 

Dwight Award winner Smyrna Troncoso