The Gray Area: We Need Storytellers

by Kaela Dunne '18


Co-curricular is a treasured time among our students. It’s 45 minutes to nap, hang out with friends or get ahead on homework. Except when there are all-school events such as Gray Colloquium. As a member of the Gray Colloquium Committee, I’m expected to enjoy Gray Colloquium but that has not always been the truth. In fact, I joined the committee because of how much I disliked Gray Colloquium. Of course, I try to convince myself that it’s actually a really unique opportunity, which, if used well, can bring so much to our students. When I give tours I always describe Gray Colloquium as a chance for St. Markers to break out of the ‘boarding school bubble’ and see diversity amongst a common theme. In theory, I think that sounds pretty cool, but next thing I know I’m sitting in the PFAC trying not to zone out. Sure, I don’t love when my 40 minutes of free time are encroached upon, but I especially don’t like it when I’m bored the whole time. Some of the speakers we’ve hosted have had such important things to share with us, but not all of them know their audience. We’re exhausted high school students, and the number one priority should be to keep us awake. That’s the only way we’ll hear the message, no matter how important it is. In my opinion, this year’s speakers have been the best in my four years here. Dr. Loewen’s talk was aimed at high school students, both in content and in the fact he wasn’t afraid to wake people up. Alexis Jones was even more engaging as a speaker. She used the whole space - not just the stage - to her advantage, and she encouraged audience participation. Part of her brand is that she’s a storyteller, and that was evident to the audience. I think what Gray Colloquium needs is storytellers - not just experts in their field, but people who can engage 350 students in a hall. At the end of the day, the message is only as well received as the speaker itself. It has been nice to be genuinely excited about the Gray Colloquium speakers this Fall, and I hope that the pattern continues into the rest of the year. After all, if we can showcase a year’s worth of engaging speakers, students might not miss their forty minute nap quite so much.