By Emma Drzala ’19

On February 22, six competitors sat on the Hauser stage waiting to present their speeches. Finalists Kaley Taylor (IV), Alexandra Weber (V), Carolyn Coyne (IV), Noah Bergam (IV), Jamie Wang (V), and Aneesh Karuppur (IV) qualified out of 20 other students in the preliminary round of the annual Lebow Oratorical Competition. Mr. Richard Karrat, the faculty advisor of Lebow for the last two years, said he loves working on this competition. He thinks, “Public speaking is an important skill to have. This competition allows for students to showcase their speaking skills as well as convey their thoughts and opinions to the school community.”

The assembly opened starting with Coyne. Her speech “Drink the Water” was centered around complaints. Coyne argued that we, as a community, are caught up on first world problems. Our complaints rarely dive beneath the surface. Coyne pointed out that about 2,000,000 per year people die of dehydration alone, and so, “Even if the glass is half empty, we should drink the water.”

Following was Weber. She began her speech, “The True Meaning of Music to my Ears,” by talking about the tragedies her family had gone through in the last year. A song that got her through her hard times was Led Zeppelin’s “Thank-You.” Weber opened up to the audience, telling them how music is a communicator and can change your life if you allow it to. She ended the speech by telling us to, “Find your song, and enjoy your ride.”

Bergam opened his speech by reminiscing on a day in a Starbucks cafe. In his speech “Chasing Memes,” Bergam questioned memes. He noted memes as a way around the complexity of life. He challenged the audience to not chase shallow behavior, and instead to find a deeper understanding of themselves. Bergam stated, “What intrigued me the most about the topic was both its scientific theory as well as its timeliness, in an Internet-driven world. I really enjoyed delving into this idea as it related to my own identity as well as the integrity of our communication at large.”

The next speech was “Be Open and be Aware” by Taylor. She told us about how, in the last year, she realized the limit of how sensitive the Pingry community can really be. Taylor confessed some of the personal happenings within her family and related the speech back to her original thought that we all need to be more open. Lastly, Taylor reminded us to connect with others on a deeper level and to get to know someone beyond their smile.

Wang’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” followed. She started the speech by telling the audience about a crush she once had. She went on to date him, but it didn’t work out. A year later, Wang went on to join the robotics team. She had the realization that she had no more free time and started wondering what she really loved. As the speech came to an end, she reminded the audience to find something that we really love and run with it.

The final speech was “The History of Pingry” from Karuppur. He said, “I drew my inspiration from a summer internship I did. I was inspired by the school and its development.”  Karuppur showed us of some of Pingry’s flaws and myths to remind the community that the school has its own complex and dynamic history, despite how many view it ass monolithic and unchanging. He impressed that we are building a foundation for the future; we are making history.

At the end of the assembly, Taylor was chosen as runner-up and Bergam was named the winner.