Winners of the Thinkalong™ Middle School Speech Competition were announced this week and prizes were distributed to the winning students. Since September, CT Public Learning’s Rose Pierre-Louis has led an effort to teach debate, civil discourse, and media literacy to Connecticut middle-schoolers as part of the Thinkalong™ program.
Working with Education Specialist Katie Eber and Education Fellow Rob Hunt, Ms. Pierre-Louis facilitated a speech competition to determine which middle school students could craft the most persuasive and well-researched argument on a given topic.
The topic in question: should humans colonize Mars? Students from Hartford’s Betances STEM Magnet School, Breakthrough Magnet School, and Jumoke Academy did not disappoint with their responses – presenting impassioned arguments detailing the various pros and cons of humans seeking out an alternative home on one of our celestial neighbors.
The students,ranging in age from sixth to eighth grade, recorded their responses in 1-2 minute videos and were eager to impress the competition’s panel of judges. The judges were CT Public staff members, including CEO & President Jerry Franklin and his wife, Ida. Judges based their grades for each video response based on a rubric that judged the content and strength of the argument, references to Thinkalong™ PBS & NPR curated sources, and overall delivery.
After gathering the responses and tallying the votes, five winners were determined. They are:
- Joshua – Betances STEM
- Zachary – Betances STEM
- Lesia – Jumoke Academy
- Rukiyah – Jumoke Academy
- Bennet – Breakthrough Magnet
Ten honorable mentions were selected to be honored as well. The top five prize winners were awarded a customized Thinkalong™ backpack, while the runner-ups were awarded Thinkalong™ water bottles. Additionally, each winning student was awarded a gift bag of candy.
The ten students included as honorable mention were:
- Sai –Breakthrough Magnet
- Kellyannie –Breakthrough Magnet
- Fred—Jumoke Academy
- Alexzandra –Betances STEM
- Mahumita—Betances STEM
- Yasiel—Betances STEM
- Rakesh –Betances STEM
- Jamella—Betances STEM
- Maebel—Betances STEM
- Hrideyesh –Betances STEM
As she traveled to the three schools to hand out the prizes, Ms. Pierre-Louis reflected on the success of the competition and the future of the Thinkalong™ program moving forward. “We worked with incredibly smart, talented, and creative students, which is well-evidenced by their speeches. ” she remarked. “I’m excited for next semester when we can introduce even more students to debating with Thinkalong™ activities.”
As the spring semester starts up, CT Public’s Education team will begin a new round of Thinkalong™ sessions in new middle schools across Connecticut. The team hopes to build off of the momentum of the speech competition and continue to reach more students.
About the CPBN Learning Lab
As part of a partnership with Hartford Public Schools, CPBN offers a satellite campus focused on video and audio production, editing, television and radio journalism, digital arts and game design– for high school students from Hartford’s Journalism & Media Academy Magnet School. For adults interested in pursuing a media career or simply interested in gaining technical skills to advance in their already established fields, CPBN’s Institute for Advanced Media (IAM) provides classes in the basics of video production, from pre-production to post-production, digital arts and the project management skills for life seminar. A program of the IAM, the Veterans Vocational Training Program (VVTP) is designed to help veterans transition their military skills to civilian careers by providing free IAM courses and hands-on career training to 50 veterans a year as well as their spouses and caregivers. In addition to providing media education, project management and workforce development, the VVTP provides life coaching and personal support that addresses the whole person, and helps students navigate and connect with state agencies and partners that can help ease their transition. CPBN also offers a range of opportunities to college students through the CPBN Media Lab, with classes focusing on storyboarding, video production, web content creation and social media.
For more information about JMA and enrollment opportunities, contact the SVP of Education:
For more information about the Thinkalong™ program, please visit the following link: