Boys have many opportunities to speak publicly at St. Bernard’s: class play assemblies, presentations in class, recitations, and trip or athletics reports for assembly. In the Junior School there are poetry recitations at the division assemblies; in the Middle School boys give current events and book reports; and in the Upper School each boy gives a speech at Upper School assembly. He speaks without notes and will have practiced his speech beforehand with a teacher.
Every boy from first grade upward will set foot on the stage at least once a year and perform for his fellow students. The little boys want to emulate the bigger ones; the bigger boys enjoy the smaller ones. And they all appreciate the value of expressing themselves in a clear, strong, and interesting manner. In the end we hope the boys learn something more important even than learning or individual achievement: belonging to and supporting a larger whole ̶ your class, your team, your school. Much of who you are, however interesting and talented you may be, depends on that.
There is also the Upper School speech competition, which takes place every spring. The event is popular among the boys. Each boy in the Upper School prepares a speech to give without notes to his homeroom. The class votes on these speeches, and those deemed the best go to a run-off. The finalists have a new topic and give their speeches in front of the whole school at assembly. Judges (several teachers) choose the winner.