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The Annual Marathon of Recitation

5th Grade Patriotic Speech Festival

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As early as Pre-Kindergarten, students at The Oaks Academy start building the habit of attention and memory skills by memorizing and performing recitations. In the youngest grades, this begins with The Pledge of Allegiance and bible verses, but soon progresses to poems and speeches such as The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron and What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July? by Frederick Douglass.

Following the historical timeline that guides our curriculum at The Oaks, students in the fifth grade spend the year studying Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, which is the original settlement of North and South America through European colonization. For the duration of the third quarter, students spend eight weeks not only memorizing a famous patriotic speech, but also researching the life and history of the great American who originally gave it. These efforts culminate in a performance to their classmates and parents where students even “become” the great American through costume and knowledge gained in their research. This performance is also a presentation of the elocution skills they have spent years developing, such as good posture, proper breathing, volume, gestures and inflection.

The speeches are patriotic in the broad sense of the word, as they are inspired by the love of one’s country. Some speeches are celebratory and some are critical, but all express a deep desire to be beneficial to the American experiment of making “a more perfect union” and the idea of e pluribus unum or “out of many, one.” Original speech writers and presenters include George Washington, Abigail Adams, Chief Seattle, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, among others.

Images from the 2021 5th Grade Patriotic Speech Festival can be viewed below. Parents are normally invited to attend the Patriotic Speech Festival for their child’s class every year; although, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year the event was performed for a fourth grade class and live-streamed for parents to watch. Students in the audience were seated and masked according to social distancing guidelines and performers only removed their mask while they were on stage in front of the camera.

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