Bowditch’s Speak and Spar Club

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Emily Ma, Journalist/Editor

Chatter fills the air as students arrange their chairs in a circle outside of Ms. Amar’s classroom, waiting for the Speak and Spar club meeting to start. They file in and out of Room 13, signing in and greeting one another. Speak and Spar is a supportive and all-inclusive club that meets on Thursdays to improve their public speaking and debating skills through exciting games and activities. Members have enjoyed participating in math-versus-science debates, role-playing games in which they must survive a zombie apocalypse, impromptu group storytelling, and much more!
Speak and Spar was started just this year by eighth graders Zoe, Sasha, Chaith, Anila, and Aayushi. They say that they were inspired by speech and debate programs they have attended, including Toastmasters and Athens Debate, to create their own club here at Bowditch. Aayushi says that “A lot of people are not confident with public speaking, and in general talking to people, especially at this age. We noticed this and wanted to help because we went through it last year too.” Besides helping members build confidence, Chaith believes attending this club is beneficial because “Although it helps you in your day to day life, I think the main thing it will help you with is school presentations. It can help you reduce your stuttering and verbal static.” Anila adds that these skills can “also help in future interviews.” While they admit that it is sometimes difficult to run a club, they believe it all feels worth it when they see members making improvements in their public speaking ability.
As an avid attender of the club myself, I find that it has helped me to improve my ability to formulate opinions and arguments, as well as to gain confidence and make new friends. It is a great way to receive feedback, and improve upon public speaking, a skill I have found to be incredibly useful. Now that I have had experience talking in front of an audience, presenting in class is much less stressful and has even become quite enjoyable! I am now able to speak with less stuttering and pauses, and can also express my opinions more clearly.
Other club attendees seem to agree. Eight grader An says she “Joined first because [her] friends were there, but learned a lot from the debates and exercises,” and according to her friend Avery, the club “is very fun, with a good environment and fun atmosphere.” Regular attendee Meera says “It’s fun, you learn new things, you get to communicate with different people, and you get to learn about different people’s perspectives.” She says that her public speaking skills have definitely improved since joining this club, and enjoys attending the weekly meetings with her friends. As someone who just joined Speak and Spar a few months ago, Meera advises students thinking of joining to “Go ahead and do it, it’s a really welcoming environment and everyone’s really nice.”
In the future, Anila wishes that they can get a few more club members, and according to Chaith, they “also [want to] find a sixth or seventh grader who’s been consistently showing up to meetings and ask them to take over next year, when we will be in high school.” As for students considering checking out Speak and Spar, Sasha says to “Please join! It will be fun!”

Sources*

Meera

Chaith

Avery

An

Anila

Aayushi

*Last names have been redacted for privacy.