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CBHS Seniors to (Literally) ‘Get on a Soapbox’ on May 1

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CBHS Seniors to (Literally) ‘Get on a Soapbox’ on May 1
Posted on 04/29/2015

Casco Bay High School seniors will hold a Soapbox Celebration of Free Speech on Friday, May 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Monument Square in Portland. They will be celebrating the right of Americans to speak freely by performing speeches and inviting passersby to take a turn on soapboxes the students themselves have built.

“Students will be reciting their own speeches on a variety of topics,” said CBHS humanities teacher Mark Ford. “Income inequality, environmental issues, healthy eating, music appreciation, gender roles and sexual identity will be among them.”

He said Friday’s event, which will take place during Portland’s First Friday Art Walk, is the culmination of a learning expedition called the “Power of Rhetoric.” Ford said that in the expedition, “we have looked at the practice of speech in both a political and practical way. We’ve studied controversial free speech issues and court cases along with the rhetorical strategies that make arguments effective or – in many cases – ineffective.”

Most of the senior class will participate, he said. “Students who aren't quite sure whether they are going to be able to muster up the courage to speak will be there helping to get the public to take a turn on a soapbox, for which they will get a cool sticker that says ‘I spoke out today!’ or ‘I Free-speeched today!’” Ford said. “We chose First Friday because there will be people on the streets and a celebratory atmosphere.”

The students will be standing on no ordinary soapboxes. “The soapboxes themselves have been decorated and personalized to enhance the message of the speaker,” Ford said. “We worked with the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) construction program to build them.” He said one CBHS student, Charlie Davis, is also in the PATHS program, and took the lead on making that happen.

The Portland Public Schools’ Casco Bay High School, founded in 2005, is a small and rigorous public high school that is a Mentor School within the Expeditionary Learning Network, and is recognized as a national leader in project-based and “deeper” learning.