Hamden Hall Country Day School

Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

Students Explore Personal Values for 'This I Believe' Essay Project

Seventh-graders dug deep into their psyches for a recent essay writing assignment that will forever be preserved via audio tape.

Students in the English classes of Allison Ehrenreich and Jose Martinez took part in the “This I Believe” project, which mirrors a long-running program on National Public Radio that features personal explorations of values.

The project was first established at Hamden Hall years ago by Middle School Director Brian Christman and theater manager and teacher Charlie Alexander as a way to complement the eighth-grade declamations.
According to Miss Ehrenreich, she and Mr. Martinez brought the initiative back this fall and required that students prepare short essays about their belief systems and record themselves reading the essay.

“It was really wonderful watching these young people identify their value systems and share their words with their peers. That takes guts!” said Miss Ehrenreich.

Helping students find their voice is also inherent in the assignment.

“It's a great values clarification exercise, and it allows students to work on their communication skills,” said Mr. Christman.

During its four-year run on NPR, the “This I Believe” project invited listeners to “write about the core beliefs that guide your daily life.” The personal statements were then aired on NPR, and producers touted the initiative as one that engaged people of all walks of life. The series was based on a 1950s radio program of the same name hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow.

Click here to listen to several students' audio-recorded essays.
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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.