It’s mid-November, which brings us to the culminating event for DCD’s Smooth Talk Program – the Smooth Talk evening. It’s a gathering of 8th-grade students, parents, and teachers during which each student delivers a speech that they have prepared about a person, an event, or experience that has impacted or shaped them in a meaningful way. With Covid restrictions in place this year, students spoke in front of a live audience in the Rand Gym and a virtual one on Zoom.

Smooth Talk is a class that every DCD student in the middle school takes in the fall of their 8th-grade year. Taught by Elisa Sidoli, Director of Secondary School Placement, and Rick Edie, Middle School English Teacher and Secondary School Counselor, this class helps DCD students put their best foot forward as they apply to secondary schools. The goal is to enhance their public speaking skills further, develop an ability to think and write introspectively and practice interviewing skills through a series of mock interviews – all the essential ingredients that support a successful application process and transition to high school. Through their time at DCD and this culminating course, students develop a strong sense of self so as they consider their next schools, private or public; they have a keen understanding of the kind of experience they hope to have in their next school communities.

The Smooth Talk speech, a special rite of passage at DCD, is deeply moving for teachers, classmates, and families. During this fall, students have spent a great deal of time thinking about who they are as individuals, what has influenced them, and have learned to speak about their interests and passions. Adolescents are just beginning to be introspective beings, and this process helps to fuel their thinking. The Smooth Talk speech often grows out of this time of introspection and reveals an authentic view of each student. Though this evening happens every year, everyone in the audience, students, teachers, and parents, always leaves the evening in awe of such a powerful and moving experience.