It’s a watershed event in the life of a Brunswick boy, a turning point in growth from adolescent to young man.
Each year, every week from November to April, Brunswick seniors take a turn at the podium in Baker Theater.
Center stage, the student delivers a three- to five-minute speech, known quite simply as the “Senior Voice.”
The speeches are a requirement for graduation and offer a chance for students to hone their skills in public speaking.
The speech is formal. Boys wear a jacket, a Brunswick patch, and a senior tie; the talk is evaluated for content, eye contact, tone, length, and more.
“We want the boys to face what is, societally, the top fear of most adults,” said Class Dean Paul Withstandley. “To conquer that.”
“Most leaders have to give addresses to large groups,” he said. “This speech is formal, center stage, at a podium. It’s a graded exercise.”Even so, Senior Voices are distinguished for their candor, sincerity, and heartfelt reflections on the kind of stunning growth that happens in high school.
What’s more, each voice offers a distinct, and truly unique, perspective.
Each is an opportunity for the class to get to know each classmate more deeply, in ways that are often missed in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.Freshmen squabbles “fall into the distance” as boys bond as a class and reach new levels of maturity, self awareness, and acceptance.
“It is a crescendo moment,” said Withstandley. “It’s really where these kids shed their chrysalis.”
“You hear the words brother, brotherhood, acceptance, family. How they feel part of our community.”
“It’s just an enormous leap.”
Completing the speech always leaves the senior with a sense of accomplishment; afterward, they receive the traditional class handshake as all of their classmates stream by with warm words, hugs, and a shared sense of pride.
As of 2018-19, all Senior Voice speeches are recorded and catalogued, and boys are provided a private link they can share with grandparents, out-of-town family, and anyone else they choose.