Concord Spellbinders Toastmasters holds Speechcraft graduation

Members and students met recently in Thompson Hall at the conclusion of the seven-week Speechcraft program which had been held on Tuesday and Thursday nights. More than 20 students had attended one or more evenings. The graduation was for those students who had given at least four manual speeches. They had also given evaluations, made introductions and participated weekly in Table Topics (impromptu speeches).

Eric Cadena, student coordinator, welcomed all present, and asked the six advisors to introduce themselves.

The program began with two “How to say it” speeches. Carl Raffa described the consequences of backing his large truck into a car. Jordan Johnson recounted sky diving to meet a wish on his mother’s “bucket list.”

Then followed four “Vocal Variety” speeches. Maggie McNamara told how whenever she got into trouble at home, her mother called out “Margaret Lynn McNamara” – the use of her full name warning of trouble ahead. Nick Colern described being put off by Buffalo State because of a fraternity he had seen there and his subsequent association of fraternities with excessive partying. When he came to Fredonia, someone explained there was much more to fraternities than he realized.

Tom Broman gave a moving account of his relationship with his twin brother. Initially very close, they grew apart in high school and he didn’t know his twin was getting into deep trouble as a result of being the victim of bullying. Finally, Arianna Haviters began by thanking Broman for sharing with the group a very moving personal and tragic story. In her speech, she spelled out the benefits of meditation and music.

Each student was paired with an advisor before giving an evaluation of one of their fellow speakers, so that each speaker was evaluated.

Member Jim Holton gave the graduation address. He noted that usually listeners remember one or two of the points a speaker makes. On this occasion, however, the speeches had all been memorable and magical, so he could remember them in detail. He included references in his speech to speeches made by Lincoln, JFK, FDR, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill. He concluded by quoting Gerald Ford, who commented that “Nothing in life is more important than communication.”

Dr. David Larson conducted a Table Topics session. He used a list of questions often asked of candidates at job interviews. This had been done also at earlier sessions. Each student came to the lectern, selected a question and then spoke for one to two minutes. He suggested to the students that they might get together for an hour one day to practice answers to these questions.

Club President Mark Hess next evaluated Holton’s graduation address. He liked the way the attribution had been given for each of the quotations given and also the encouraging and positive tone of the address.

Hess, supported by coordinators Jutta Rawcliffe and Cadena, then presented graduation certificates to the seven students completing the program and a coordinator’s certificate to Cadena and Jutta Rawcliffe.

General Evaluator Jim Rawcliffe commented on the great improvement in confidence of the speakers over the seven-week period. The meeting had been like a typical Toastmasters meeting with speeches given on a wide variety of subjects by a diverse group of speakers. He shared Holton’s comment that the evening had been magical with speeches full of interest and fun.

He invited all present to attend the next regular club meeting to be held on Wednesday in Room 127, Fenton Hall. Priority would be given to any student wishing to give a speech on this occasion.

He expressed his thanks to Dr. Larson who had generously provided refreshments for this occasion.

Cadena gave his concluding remarks, thanking Jutta Rawcliffe for the prodigious amount of work done by her. Dr. Larson thanked Cadena for the leadership he had shown. He added that he was impressed with the way the program had been put together after his first suggestion made to the club back in January.