SpeakUp! adds new topic, considers possible changes in the future

SpeakUp! introduced breakout sessions on Social Media and has explored moving the location of the annual event.

Jack Guardiola, Editor-in-Chief

SpeakUp! is comprised of students and parents from Malvern Prep, Villa Maria Academy, Academy of Notre Dame, and Devon Preparatory School, and seeks to encourage dialogue between students and their parents, according to SpeakUp! Moderator Mrs. Jessica Kenworthey.

“[SpeakUp!] is an organization that promotes the hosting of an event to promote parent-teen educator dialogue in a non-judgemental way on very hot button topics,” Kenworthey said.

These topics are suggested by SpeakUp! itself, the parent organization for the event, and eventually chosen and finalized by student leaders.

“The organization provides a template to schools interested in hosting the event, and that template promotes the creation of a team of student leaders,” Kenworthey said.

This year, there are a variety of different topics addressed, including Sex and Pressure, Drugs and Alcohol, Stress and Mental Health, and new this year, Social Media.

“This year we actually had a topic that we hadn’t had for quite some time, it’s been sort of a sub-topic of others,” Kenworthey said. “This year we did Sex and Pressure, Drugs and Alcohol, Stress and Mental Health, and this year we had breakouts on Social Media.”

According to Kenworthey, the new topic was a hit among parents.

“This year, way more parents wanted to be in the Social Media breakout,” she said. “They’re all very concerned about that.”

However, other topics were not as popular, specifically Sex and Pressure.

“We had very few parents in Sex and Pressure,” Kenworthey said. “I think parents need to hear what kids are saying about sex and pressure. It was very nonjudgmental and very frank and open.”

Despite SpeakUp!’s popularity among students, Kenworthey says that registration for the event can be improved upon.

“We’ve been emphasizing that people register online ahead of the event, because it makes our planning really easy. But what happened was that we had 96 no shows,” she said. “We did have about 50 on-site registrations, which we didn’t advertise that we were having.”

Considering all things, the event ended up with an impressive turnout.

“We had over 400 registrations total, and our final numbers were around 350, which was really good,” Kenworthey said.

Looking towards future events, Kenworthey says that she and the student leaders have been exploring potential changes. However, these plans have not been finalized and are not definite.

“Now there’s a new moderator [at Notre Dame] and she said to me that Notre Dame might want to host the whole thing next year,” Kenworthey said.