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In 'This I Believe' speeches, students share values and dreams for tomorrow
In 'This I Believe' speeches, students share values and dreams for tomorrow

For five years beginning in 1951, radio listeners were enraptured by the CBS program This I Believe, in which essayists — both well-known personalities and everyday people — were asked to pen "a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action."

Six decades later, within the walls of Durham Academy’s Kenan Auditorium, the This I Believe tradition was honored yet again, as six students addressed their peers with speeches focused on their own beliefs. The speeches, delivered at the Upper School’s Martin Luther King Jr. assembly on Thursday, were all centered around themes related to the late civil rights leader.

Upper School diversity coordinators Jazmin Garcia Smith, co-director of college counseling, and Kelly Teagarden, who teaches in the humanities, opened the assembly by speaking about King’s values.

“While we often discuss themes of justice, equality and peace in this assembly, this year, we also want to emphasize the importance of community,” Garcia Smith said. “Martin Luther King is well-known for his use of the term ‘beloved community.’ … Dr. King’s beloved community is a global vision where poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated. Where racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood, where love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred, and where peace and justice will prevail.”

This is the second year that the Upper School’s MLK observance has centered around This I Believe speeches. This year’s speakers include seniors Alex Charles, Kenan Ulku-Steiner and Bhamini Vellanki; juniors Angel Knight and Isaias Reyes-Martinez; and ninth-grader Quinn Shanahan.

Alex Charles: I believe in the power of love

Kenan Ulku-Steiner: I believe in the power of role models

Bhamini Vellanki: I believe in the power of diversity

Angel Knight: I believe in the power of unity

Isaias Reyes-Martinez: I believe in the importance of having dreams

Quinn Shanahan: I believe in perseverance