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An Ear for Listening and a Mouth for Speaking

As part of their final for Mike Deasy's Rhetoric class, seniors gathered on Monday to read literary excerpts or passages from something meaningful to them before sharing breakfast, thoughtfully provided by their teacher. This gathering marked their last time together in class as students of Falmouth Academy, creating a moment of reflection and connection.

The Rhetoric class, known for its focus on effective communication and critical thinking, culminated in this unique activity that allowed students to showcase their oratory skills. While this poignant activity provided a charming peek into the psyche of the students, it also craftily met the aims Deasy set for the course, giving his students one more opportunity to orate effectively and listen respectfully.

It was a privilege to be a "fly on the wall" during this activity because the passages these fine people shared were thoughtful, touching, and as eclectic as they are. A few students chose favorite books from childhood such as The Kissing Hand, Winnie the Pooh, and Narnia. Benjamin Angell set the stage by turning off the lights and asking his audience to close their eyes and be very still and quiet as he read Owl Moon:

When you go owling you don't need words or warm or anything but hope.

I didn't ask what kind of things hide behind black trees in the middle of the night. When you go owling you have to be brave.

His reading created an immersive experience, emphasizing the power of quiet reflection and imagination.

Others reached back and chose books they had studied in earlier FA classes such as The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird. Emily Lazarus compiled several of her favorite passages from Mockingbird about courage, empathy, truth, and friendship, and chose to end with this short exhortation: "Pass the damn ham, please!"

She interpreted this to mean that no matter what you have to say, you should say it nicely. Emily's selection highlighted the importance of respectful communication, another key lesson from the Rhetoric class.

Natalie Pil read from The Great Silence by Ted Chiang, a science fiction story of species extinction told from the point of view of a parrot who wonders why humans spend so much effort looking for alien life forms when creatures such as themselves—nonhuman species capable of communicating with them—are right here among them. Her choice underscored the interconnectedness of all life and the often-overlooked wisdom of the natural world.

Nate Holmes drew inspiration from the courageous words of Lou Gehrig in his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium after the news spread of his ALS diagnosis, where, despite it all, Gehrig called himself, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Nate's selection was a powerful reminder of resilience and gratitude in the face of adversity.

One of the more surprising and poignant excerpts was shared by Justin Sontag, who recited a poem that pops up after winning the video game Minecraft about what makes us human:

Who are we? Once we were called the spirit of the mountain. Father sun, mother
moon. Ancestral spirits, animal spirits. Jinn. Ghosts. The green man. Then gods,
demons. Angels. Poltergeists. Aliens, extraterrestrials. Leptons, quarks. The
words change. We do not change.

We are the universe. We are everything you think isn't you. You are looking at us
now, through your skin and your eyes. And why does the universe touch your
skin, and throw light on you? To see you, player. To know you. And to be known. I
shall tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a player.
And, that player was you.

Justin's choice of a modern and unexpected source highlighted the diverse influences on the students' lives and their ability to find meaning in various forms of media.

If insightful young people such as these are our future, we are in good hands. 
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