Students learn words have power at MEMS

MANCHESTER — Fifth-grade students at Manchester Elementary Middle School have been learning about the power of words.

They demonstrated that knowledge last Wednesday with a celebration of "The Power of Words" in the school gymnasium. Students set up their own presentations, complete with headphones so listeners could hear the famous speeches that inspired them and posters with pictures, quotes and facts about their chosen orator.

The sources ranged from historic addresses, such as one given by Coretta Scott King, to song lyrics and speeches, such as the one recited by Kurt Russell in his portrayal of U.S. men's hockey coach Herb Brooks in the film "Miracle."

Several students took to the stage to give their own speeches. Most chose to talk about bullying, why it's wrong and how it can be prevented.

Fifth-grade teacher Anna Nicholson said the idea sprung from her talking to students about the power of words every day.

"I realized: Let me give them a project that they have a lot of voice and choice in and reflect on the words that impact them," she said.

The students were free to choose their own content, and were asked to identify the main idea of the speech and reflect on its meaning.

"It's a way for them to express their personality and how they interpret words," Nicholson said.

Danika Orava, 11, chose Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. Among the quotes Orava cited was this: "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than the hated."

"I thought she could get recognition for not just being Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, but for being a rights activist and an inspiration to many people," Orava said.

Tessanna Valentine, 10, was among the young orators who spoke on bullying, how it hurts people and why it should not be tolerated.

"I thought it would be really easy but when I heard my name get called I got really scared and I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it," she said. "It was really nerve-wracking."

What got her through was the presence of friends and family in the audience at MEMS.

"During my speech I was staring at them a lot and it boosted my confidence," she said.


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