By Emily Zhao

After a year without Speech class in the school curriculum, English teacher Babak Shahrivar will once again teach the class throughout the 2017-2018 school year.

The class will be available for upperclassmen and will count as an elective rather than as an English course. Thus, students interested must take Speech class concurrently with another English core class.

Contrary to popular belief, this course neither requires exceptional English skills nor speaking expertise. With no prerequisites, any upperclassman interested will be able to improve their skills.

“In the past, I’ve had students that just started learning English (take) the class, so it’s really just a class for anyone who’s really interested in improving their public speaking and confidence,” emphasizes Mr. Shahrivar.

Students who take the course will have the chance to participate in out-of-school speech competitions, like the annual Rotary Club of San Jose and Lockheed Martin contests. In the past, Piedmont Hills students have been extremely successful in speech competitions, winning first, second and third place in the annual Rotary Club contest.

“Also, I’m asked for (the Lockheed Martin) contest as a speech teacher to pick a student that would participate in that one. So, the only way of getting into that contest would be to (take the class). There was actually a student that I coached who won first place and was flown out for free to Washington State and compete at the higher level,” acknowledges Mr. Shahrivar.

Because Speech will most likely account for only one period, both students and teacher have a lot of freedom in how they want to run the curriculum.

“Every single year that I’ve taught the class, I’ve had them pick and choose what kind of unit they want to do. Last year, they actually did a parody assignment, where they got to prepare videos. They did a comedy unit, and actually a lot of students ended up doing stand-up comedy which was really funny,” laughs Mr. Shahrivar. A few students loved stand up comedy so much that they continued their practice at a local club.

“(Speech) is one of my favorite classes to teach because the whole class is like a family, I know that sounds cheesy, but everyone gets to know each other,” reminisces Mr. Shahrivar.

Not only is he eager to teach the course next year, students are enthusiastic as well.

“It was definitely a class worth taking, (and it) helped us develop valuable public speaking skills. We also made fun and wonderful memories together, and the class was a really safe and supportive community!” exclaims senior Jason Vu.


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