Eighth Grade Speaking Contest

The 115th Annual Eighth Grade Speaking Contest was held on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. Congratulations to winner Jack Nelson, who earned first place for his speech, "Fear Spiders, Not Failure."

In his speech, delivered expertly with no notes on the podium, Jack challenged the audience to replace the thinking of "But what if I fail?" with "But what if I ball-out?"* Instead of thinking about the negative things that might happen when doing something new, think of the positive, best-possible outcomes to inspire you to keep going. 

Congratulations to all the finalists for the poise and confidence they demonstrated while delivering their speeches to a crowd in Conway Hall. 

First Place: Jack Nelson
"Fear Spiders, Not Failure"

Second Place: Kyle Hess
"The Importance of Youth Sports & Being Successful at the Game of Life"

Third Place: Bobby Berglund 
"What Happened to the Government’s Giant Leap in Space?"

Finalists/ Honorable Mentions: 

Nathan Greenberg
"How a Device Can Save a Life"

Charlie Martin
"How We Stop School Shootings"

James Mason
"The Five P's and How They Impact the Upcoming Generation"

Click here to watch the 2023 Eighth Grade Speaking Contest.

*For those that may not know, balling-out is a good thing. Jack uses the fun acronym bwiibo when practicing his own advice. 

Thank you to our Speaking Contest judges who joined the time-honored US tradition of celebrating and practicing the art of public speaking:
Mr. Richard R. Hollington ’50 is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Cleveland for more than 56 years as a partner at Baker & Hostetler. Mr. Hollington also served as a State Representative in the Ohio General Assembly. 

Dr. Linda Monitello teaches theology and speech at Gilmour Academy. She has been a Speech & Debate Tournament judge at the district and national levels for eight years.

Mr. Theodore Moll ’23 was the 2019 winner of the Eighth Grade Speaking Contest with his speech, "Where is the Line: Saudi Arabia and the US." He is a current senior, the head of Hawley House and head prefect. Theo plans to study economics at college in the fall.  

About the Eighth Grade Speaking Contest
Every year, each eighth-grade student prepares a speech on a topic of their choice and delivers it in his English class. Boys in each class vote to propel a classmate or two to the semifinals. Semifinalists deliver their speeches to a panel of faculty judges, who select the finalists. The entire Middle School community gathers for a special assembly where the finalists perform their speeches. The winner and runners-up are chosen by a small panel of judges from the US community and beyond.  
    • The Eighth Grade Speaking Contest Finalists. Pictured, from left: Mr. Patrick Gallager, Head of School, Bobby Berglund, Ryan Hess, Jack Nelson, Nathan Greenberg, Charlie Martin, James Mason, and Mrs. Lindsay Arnoult, Director of the Middle School.

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Phone: 216-321-8260

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GRADES 9 – 12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves over 850 boys in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved.