Student speeches take on issues

Published: 3/30/2021 1:26:22 PM

Students from Henniker Community and Weare Middle School joined other schools across the state in participating in the Mikva Challenge public speaking event Project Soapbox, sponsored by the NH Institute for Civics Education. In Project Soapbox, students addressed the question What is the biggest issue facing your community and what should be done about it? and then created and recorded a two-minute speech using research-based evidence.

As only 12 speeches would be highlighted at the virtual mainstage event on March 9, each student’s speech was reviewed by members of their school and community. Four students in Henniker and six from Weare advanced to be among the 12 mainstage participants. The four Civic Partners who viewed the videos and offered feedback for the mainstage event were former NH Chief Justice John Broderick, NH First Lady Valerie Sununu, former NH State Senator Dan Feltes, and NH Humanities Council President Anthony Poore.

Weare Middle School students in the Project Soapbox Mainstage and their topics:

■Tyler Andrews: Standardized Testing

■Savannah Chapman: Respond to Gossip

■Jaylynn Coker: Judging Others

■Miley Houle: Black Lives Matter

■Payton Mathieu: Animal Testing

■Reese Pike: Body Shaming in the Show Ring

Henniker Community School students in Project Soapbox Mainstage and their topics:

■Amanda Leonard: Water Pollution

■Jackson Lochmandy: Wind Turbines

■Makayla Murphy-Plunkett: Transgender Rights

■Makenzie Murphy-Plunkett: Police Brutality

Jackson Lochmandy’s speech was selected to be considered for the National Showcase on May 11. All of the speeches presented at the mainstage event on March 9 can be viewed at

NH Civics received a three-year service grant to work with six New Hampshire middle schools as they implement a proven civics curriculum, educator professional development, and youth leadership program: The Mikva Challenge. This initiative is funded by the Bezos Family Foundation along with local NH organizations including the Tillotson Foundation, the NH Democracy Fund, and the Jameson Foundation. The six schools are in Henniker, Weare, Groveton, Gorham, Littleton, and Pittsfield.


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