The Chapel Speaking Program

Below is a student-written article featured in the latest issue of The Tie, Saint Joseph Prep Boston's student newspaper.  


by Megan Graf ‘25

SJP CHAPEL  — Every week, during one advisory period each grade level  gathers together in the chapel, prays as a community, listens to speeches, and then reflects on what they heard. The Chapel Speech program is run and moderated by Dr. Borkowski, meaning he prepares a summarization and reflection about the speeches delivered each week. These reflections are meant to help the audience have a greater understanding of the speech and how it relates to their own lives. 

In September, all students received their grade level writing prompt during their introduction to the Chapel Speech program.  At that time, they also signed up for the specific date they would present their speech.   

Each year the Chapel Speech topic becomes more focused and personalized, allowing students to explore different ideas as they progress through the program.  This year, Dr. B. composed the following prompts for grade 9-12 students:

  • Freshmen: Write about something that inspires you. Include what impact that inspiration has on your life. 
  • Sophomores: Discuss an aspect of your community that is significant to you, and how it has impacted you. Try and expand beyond the communities you are a part of within SJP.  
  • Juniors: Write about an ethical issue in the world that is important to you. 
  • Seniors: Write about the type of person you hope to become after graduation, and how your future career is going to help you to better yourself and become the person you want to be.

These grade level themes are meant to both guide students in deciding what specific topic to write about and to challenge students when writing and preparing for their speeches.  The students also receive support and editorial advice from a faculty mentor as they work on the rough drafts of their speeches.

At the time this article was written, the Sophomores had heard their first two speeches of the year. The first brave speaker was Patrick Whalen, and the second was Gretchen Miller. 

Patrick Whalen '25

(photo credit L. Walkins)

Patrick started off the year speaking about his online community of both spaceflight and rocket science. Patrick talked about how throughout the COVID-19 quarantine, he began to learn about and post educational videos on rocket science and spaceflight on social media platforms such as Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram. He closed his speech by talking about how although he has personally inspired 50,000 people, as a sophomore in high school he is incapable of sending astronauts to Mars. However, he will continue to teach about spaceflight and rocket science, and work toward his goal of making humans a multiplanetary species. 

Gretchen Miller '25 

(photo credit: L. Walkins)

Secondly, Gretchen told the sophomores about her experience and involvement in the Wellesley Theater Project since 2019. She talked about the theater productions she has participated in and the endless support she has felt from the family created through the Wellesley Theater Project from her very first production. She has appeared in productions of Frozen and Guys and Dolls.  Gretchen emphasized the valuable skills, lifelong supporting community, and safe space that she has been connected with through the Wellesley Theater Project.

The Chapel Speaking program is designed to help give students exposure to aspects of public speaking so that they are prepared and comfortable when they have to do it in the real world. Every student is required to both write and perform a speech once a year on their grade’s assigned topic. The chapel is also a place for students to connect and learn about classmates in their grade, through each other’s individual speeches and the communal, student-led prayer each week.