RamTalks Speaks the Truth

April 18, 2016

In the Spring of 2015, then sophomore Eryn Meyer had an idea. As a member of Robinson’s Speech and Debate team and a lover of the educational, entertaining, and thought-provoking presentations known as TedTalks, Meyer wanted to create an event where students could share their ideas and be heard.

“[By] being a part of Speech and Debate, I thought it would be a really cool opportunity to have our fellow students and faculty go up and speak. I just love the idea of spreading ideas in a safe, positive environment,” said Meyer.

Come November, Meyer began the process of turning her idea into a reality. By assembling a team of Speech and Debate members and advertising all over Robinson for five months, RamTalks was finally born. On the night of April 15th, 2016, Robinson students and faculty alike filled Davala Hall to hear their peers and colleagues voices heard. The event was also live streamed so that audiences across the country could listened to the captivating performances.

Seven students and three faculty members delivered speeches about concepts that interested them. Topics performed ranged from the electoral college, to taking care of our veterans, to the influences of games and how we can use logic behind them to our advantage. A variety of ideas and subjects were expressed, given that the only prompt assigned was to “speak about something you’re passionate about”.

“It really inspired me because I really hadn’t found my place in speech and debate yet” said freshman Matthew Hauser, who gave his speech “Speaking for the Trees”, about climate change, following the theme of the infamous Dr Seuss book The Lorax. “I’m very passionate about climate change. I’ve written multiple essays on it before… and made it a lot more friendly and incorporated the Lorax. I thought ‘this is my chance to spread the message to people and get myself into the community of speech and debate.’”

In the weeks leading up to the event, the teachers Meyer had originally asked to announce the event quickly became many who presented. Principal Matt Eline, English teacher Matthew Connolly, and English department head and former debate coach Jennifer Fulton, all gave presentations centering around the theme of “The Journey”. Eline kicked off the night  by giving a “sitting on the carpet kind-of speech”, which followed the journey of the Wizard of Oz with the message that everyone needs a heart and some courage.

“I think it’s powerful when we all get together as a community and talk about things. It just makes you think a little deeper,” said Eline.

Fultons speech “Not Your Average Joe”, told the story of of the positive impact pilates has had on her life. Including breathing exercises, Fulton tried to connect the audience to her second love.

“I was honored that they asked me… to speak. I felt motivated to since I had spent so much time helping to build up the team… I knew I wasn’t going to speak about English, so I decided to speak about my other passion.” said Fulton.

RamTalks was designed to be a platform where students could share their stories and talk about things that aren’t conventionally discussed in the classroom. The space that Meyers set out to create was not something that she was seeing in the Robinson community.

“It’s rare for students to get the opportunity to speak about exactly what they’re passionate about. I’m always surprised [with] my peers, they have such interesting passions and talents and a lot of times sitting in the classroom you don’t really know what everyone is into,” said Meyer.

Themes of developing empathy and talking to people who have different experiences were both themes expressed in the speeches given that night, and are both the goals of RamTalks.

“It’s kind of an intellectual setting, so I think it will encourage limiting ignorance in our community and encourage curiosity and listening in a safe way” said Meyer, “I think with a forum like RamTalks, it’ll encourage people to listen and be interested in the thoughts of other kids.”

Although RamTalks was the first event ever of its kind, participants and audience members hope to see the event become a Robinson staple. “I’d love to see it become an annual event that the team sponsors or even a twice a year type of event” said Fulton.

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