Chapel talks provide pedagogy, unity, and wellness to the Upper School


Credit: Benjy Renton

Chapel talks like this one provide rich out-of-classroom experiences. Here a rapt audience listened to Hope Weisman ’17 deliver a compelling talk. Chapel talks have touched on such subjects as Euro-centric beauty standards and managing multiple deadlines in the past.

By The Editorial Board

While King Chapel is no longer used for religious purposes, the chapel is still a place in which individuals come together as a community. Chapel talks, short speeches given by seniors to underclassmen, occur throughout the year and provide anecdotal but significant lessons to younger students.

Chapel talks help guide underclassmen through their time in high school, unite the Hackley community, add an element of wellness to the Upper School, and enable seniors to grow as communicators and speakers. Therefore, the Dial Editorial Board applauds Hackley’s historic chapel talk tradition.

Seniors cover a range of topics in their talks. This year, seniors have discussed such topics as taking part in enjoyable activities and embracing identity. In their most cogent form, chapel talks are instructive for younger students trying to forge successful paths through the Upper School.

“Ben Moscow’s chapel talk on branching out, meeting new people and trying new things was impactful for me. [His talk] resonated with me as a freshman who was new to the Upper School with so many options and clubs and classes to take,” said sophomore Lara Schecter.

Chapel talks enable freshmen and sophomores to find friendly older faces within the Hackley community. Of course, it should be noted that not all underclassmen and upperclassmen engage with one another on a personal level at Hackley. Yet chapel talks do bridge the divide between younger and older students to an extent.

“I think [chapel talks] are good because [they] bring the community together. [They] help to let the sophomores and the freshman get to know the seniors a little bit and [they] also [help] because of the general advice that [seniors] give,” said sophomore Winslow Griffin.

Many chapel talks are thought-provoking for underclassmen. But chapel talks themselves are not simply pedagogical in nature. Sitting down and listening to older students talk about their experiences in days filled with assessments and stress is both an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Chapel talks are not always serious, but they are instruments of providing wellness at Hackley.

“There’s a lot that can be learned [from chapel talks], and also a lot of fun that can be had. I’ve heard some [chapel talks] that are really serious and some [chapel talks] that are really hysterical,” junior Oren Tirschwell said.

Despite the fact that many younger students enjoy chapel talks, other students are skeptical about the relevance of some talks to their own lives. Talks are, however, not designed to be unanimously relatable.

“I guess a drawback [of chapel talks] is that if you can’t relate [to the talk] or [the talk is] more personal to that senior then [the talk] is kind of pointless for you,” freshman Logan Oscher said. However, Oscher did note that she appreciates understanding the “journey” of senior speakers as well.

Aside from the wisdom imparted onto younger students during chapel talks, such talks are also learning experiences for seniors who give them. Specifically, the creation and presentation of a speech is a life skill honed in seniors who give talks. And public speaking should be developed by students. A large part of success in life is, after all, contingent on sound communication.

“While public speaking is obviously super nerve-wracking, especially when you’re being super vulnerable to people you don’t know too well, [my chapel talk] was a really, really rewarding experience overall,” senior Mikhaila Archer said concerning her experience as a senior delivering a chapel talk.

Chapel talks are the foundation of empathy and unity in the Upper School. They are conducive to the sort of growth and self-reflection present in the aspirational vision of a Hackley student. They make Hackley, Hackley.