Speech, Debate and Drama are an integral part of the curriculum at Millhopper Montessori School for all first through eighth grade students. The first through fifth grade are given thirty minutes of instruction each week while the middle school students receive an hour of instruction each week.
Speech & Public Speaking is taught to ease the students into speaking in front of a group. In first - third grades they learn delivery techniques by reading from their journals, presenting a poem or a story. The fourth and fifth graders begin to write their own speeches and deliver them. In sixth – eighth grades the students learn to write various speeches and deliver in various styles. By eighth grade the students deliver their speeches extemporaneously using a keyword outline and also deliver a five minute impromptu speech. Lessons of voice projection, varying voice, proper body language as well as not fidgeting and being prepared start in the first grade and continue through eighth grades.
Debate teaches formal discussion of various opinions. The first – third graders learn to make an informed opinion by discussing the difference between gathering information before the opinion is formed and making an opinion without knowing all the facts. Fourth – fifth grade in opposing teams, research a simple issue, formulate an opinion, write an introduction, points with backup, and a conclusion and present a debate. The middle school students spend weeks researching a current event, or environmental issue, or historical issue and present a formal debate to the first – fifth grade students every other year.
Drama teaches the students the creative process of acting, auditioning, script writing and presenting a show. Every other year the students in first – fifth grades learn and recite Shakespeare using “Shakespeare Can Be Fun series” that mimics the stories in rhyme. The middle school creates a theatrical portfolio that includes: a re-written scene, cultural overview, props, characterization and costumes. Their hard work and re-written scene is presented at the Shakespeare Festival at the historic Thomas Center. In 2010, a twenty minute rendition of the Third Annual Shakespeare Festival earned an Excellent rating at the National Performing Arts Festival in Disney World. Two of the students earned Outstanding Performance medals. The judges were so impressed with the re-written scenes they were awarded a “Judges Choice” trophy for their efforts. The culmination of the Drama Unit is an End of the Year Show presented annually at a community theater, such as PK Yonge Performing Arts Center or the Santa Fe Performing Arts Center.
The school offers two after school drama studios and a vocal ensemble studio, The Spotlight Kids with Junior Thespians – a competitive drama troupe for students in sixth – eighth grades and The Spotlight Kids Junior for students in third – fifth grades and The Spotlight Singers for students in first – eighth grades. During Summer Camp many acting workshops are offered to keep up with the skills taught throughout the year.