For roughly five years now, Central High School Library Media Specialist Lisa Dichiara has organized a public-speaking event around Black History Month, recruiting student volunteers who wish to brush up on their public-speaking skills as well as perform some light research, and most importantly, highlight a figure in black history that has inspired them.
“The purpose of the event is twofold,” Dichiara said. “Students choose African American people from past or present that they admire, and they have to learn to speak to a crowd.”
This year, 14 students selected 14 prominent black figures — mostly African American — to speak about on Feb. 13 ranging from athletes like Lebron James, and Serena Williams, to politicians such as Ben Carson and civil rights heroes like Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth.
The students have roughly two minutes to speak to what inspires them about their chosen figure — backed up by research — to a crowd of about 60 of their peers. Dichiara said she typically spends about a month working with the students as they put together and practice their speeches, usually in their free time such as after school, during lunch or during a free period.
Dichiara said she particularly enjoys interacting with the students on a more informal basis while helping them with their speeches.
“The kids that have done this in the past have all come back and told me how much they enjoyed it,” she said.