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The Milton Measure

Class of 2020: Best of Class IV Talks 2017

by Gracie Chiang on Friday, June 9th, 2017

On Wednesday, May 31, the freshmen gathered in Wigg Hall to watch the Michaela Steimle Best of Class IV Talks. As Ms. Sabin stated, this event honors Ms. Steimle’s dedication to inspiring freshmen to learn about the world around them. This year’s speakers, Eliza Barrett-Cotter (IV), Isa Stern (IV), Matthew Bower (IV), Cori DeLano (IV), Devon Whalen (IV), and Talia Davis (IV), all exemplified Ms. Steimle’s drive and persistence. They used their talks to convey messages and lessons learned from world issues, personal problems and solutions, and ideas about the human condition.

Eliza Barrett-Cotter addressed the important issue of rape: more specifically, the extent of how gender biases negatively affects both genders, and how misogyny has affected her. After discussing how male stereotypes cause men to become less emotional and thus worse communicators, and how misogyny causes women to receive less pay for the same work, Eliza discussed how gender biases have affected her as a young woman. By using the powerful message of her biggest fear — having to tell her parents that she was raped — she clearly expressed the severity of the effects gender biases have on our society.

Isa Stern discussed what his love of sneakers has taught him. His talk delved into how his cousin taught him about expressing individuality through sneakers, but when he buys sneakers his father sees him not only falling prey to a consumer market but also not taking a stand against the exploitation of factory workers. He contrasted the ideas of appearance versus impact by calling the audience’s attention to how nearly everyone has a materialistic object he or she relies on to gain confidence. Isa concluded by asking if these sneakers, clothes, makeup and other aesthetic products are more important than working towards having a positive impact on the world.

Matthew Bower gave a humorous talk on how living with three older sisters has taught him the importance of strategy. Using playful anecdotes to illustrate his daily life with his sisters, Matthew explained the three key strategies he uses to survive living with his sisters: thinking about where to keep your belongings, staying out of arguments, and escaping the house. Matthew reminded the audience that difficult tasks can be made easier through smart strategies.

Cori DeLano’s talk was an inside look at the lack of education surrounding feminism, the stigma around feminism, and her reasons for being a feminist. By surveying Milton students and drawing on her own personal experiences, Cori encouraged the audience to educate themselves and others about the true meaning of feminism. Her compelling presentation boldly and confidently conveyed her message, and by the end of the talk, she inspired many members of the audience to start truly identifying as real feminists, instead of being too scared of the stigma and criticism that come with the label.

Devon Whalen examined the importance of names. Beginning with Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory on the model of a word, Devon explained how objects and their names have random relationships. Once something is named, however, it develops connotations that cannot be separated from anything with that name. They applied this idea to their own name, sharing how and why they decided to change their name from Natalie to Devon. Changing their name allowed Devon to gain a deeper understanding about themselves and inspired the audience to consider the power of their own names.

Talia Davis spoke about racial labels, how they connect to privilege, and how we can stop using these labels. In the week before the Best of Class IV Talks, students held protests against the administration’s lack of acknowledgment about racial tensions in our community; Talia’s timely talk shed more light on racial relations and tensions through her eyes. By using her own experiences and thoughts to explain her ideas, she conveyed personal and powerful messages of how no one can fully understand another’s experiences, and how the best thing you can do in an uncomfortable situation is simply to ask someone to help further educate yourself.

This year’s Best of Class IV Talk speakers all discussed important topics that helped educate the audience on problems that the speakers themselves were invested in. Each of the talks stood out in their own unique way, leaving audiences more inspired than before. The event served as a powerful closer to this year’s Class IV Talks series and displayed some of the best of what the Class of 2020 has to offer.


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Posted by Gracie Chiang on Jun 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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