TAHS students hear Dr. King’s speech from members of speech team

At 8:15 a.m. today, the 700 students at Tyrone Area High School sat in their first period classes and heard two members of Tyrone High’s award winning speech team perform excerpts from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, over the school’s public address system.
In his first year as chief administrator in the school, Tyrone’s High School Principal Thomas Yoder had encouraged school students to celebrate the 22nd annual Martin Luther King Day. Yoder hoped students would mark the day, so that teenagers who grow up in a community without much ethnic variety – such as Tyrone – might more fully appreciate the challenges destined to evolve here as the I-99 highway nears completion, different people take up residence in the community, and Tyrone slowly and surely becomes more diverse.
TAHS Speech Coach Richard Merryman responded this way to Yoder’s encouragement: “Ever since Tyrone High School Principal John Gaunt established Tyrone’s Speech Team 95 years ago in 1913, the team often has tried to do what Mr. Yoder recently requested students to do for Martin Luther King Day 2008 – to introduce the entire student body to small excerpts from great speeches in American history. We commend Mr. Yoder for encouraging the speech team, and other school groups in his especially creative ways.”
Continued Merryman, “When making his request, Mr. Yoder fully realized that on Monday, January 21, 2008, students at Tyrone High were taking their English and Science mid-terms. Consequently, Tyrone’s oratorical team had to present a great American speech in a small amount of time. Disciplined by strict time limits, the team chose to present excerpts from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’ King originally delivered that speech at a 1963 Civil Rights march, in front of 50,000 people, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (how appropriate) in our nation’s capitol.”
Honoring the principal’s request, Tyrone sophomores Nathan Kruis and Ryan Bressler presented excerpts from King’s speech as “a spoken duet” over Tyrone High’s public address system this morning. This third Monday of 2008 marked the anniversary of Martin Luther King Day – since an Act of Congress established it as a national holiday back in 1986.
Merryman chose sophomores Kruis and Bressler to deliver King’s 1963 oration, because they both had demonstrated their speaking capabilities by winning first place awards at the Autumn Speech Convocation of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League, conducted on Thursday, November 15, 2007, at Williamsburg Area High School.
Speech team newcomer Grant Gonder introduced sophomore speakers Nathan Kruis and Ryan Bressler over the public address system, as Tyrone students listened and sat in their first period classes, preparing to tackle mid-term exams.
Began Gonder: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a Monday full of mid-term exams. But students, don’t remember mid-terms so hard that you forget that today marks the 22nd anniversary of Martin Luther King Monday. To help you remember, we have award winning sophomore speakers Nathan Kruis and Ryan Bressler on deck to present excerpts from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’”
After Gonder’s introduction, Kruis and Bressler delivered these excerpts from King’s memorable speech to the entire student body at Tyrone High:
First Speaker: I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and the frustrations of the moment – I still have a dream!
Second Speaker: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self evident: That all people are created equal.
First Speaker: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation, where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Second Speaker: I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama will be transformed into a place where little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls, and walk together as sisters and brothers.
First Speaker: This will be the day, when all of God’s Children will be able to sing with new meaning this song: “My country ‘tis of thee/sweet land of liberty/of thee I sing/land where my father’s died/land of the pilgrim’s pride/from every mountainside/let freedom ring.”
Second Speaker: So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire!
First Speaker: Let freedom ring from the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Second Speaker: Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
First Speaker: But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia!
Second Speaker: Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi!
First Speaker: When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village, and every hamlet, and every state, and every city, we will be able to speed up that day.
Second Speaker: That blessed day when all of God’s children: Black men and white men, jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics, will be able to join hands and sing the words of that old negro spiritual:
Both Voices: Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!