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The Distinguished Speaker Series has a bright future at CHC

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To some, it’s just another time to finish up homework. To others, the time presents a unique opportunity to watch professionals and experts express their passion.

After speakers come, comments flood the hallways.

“What did you think?”

“They were good.”

“I thought the last one was better.”

“I still have to do my math homework.”

There lies a broad spectrum across the student body concerning Cape Henry Collegiate’s signature series, but there is one opinion not often heard, that of Head of School, Dr. Christopher Garran.

I sat down for an interview with Dr. Garran to answer some questions about the Distinguished Speaker Series, and to provide insight on his personal thoughts of the series.

“My understanding when I came on board was that it was an opportunity to bring in folks with great stories, who would have an impact on the students and faculty,” Dr. Garran said.

Dr. Garran was upfront and clear about his vision of the program: impact was the goal.

Being new to Cape Henry, Dr. Garran had a lot to learn about the school, and not a lot of time to learn it. He even admitted that the Distinguished Speaker Series was not the top priority during his first year at Cape Henry, but that has not stopped him from getting several impressive speakers to visit.

Since his arrival, there have been speakers ranging from scientists to ex-military workers to former Cuban prisoners. After talking about the speakers this year, Garran spoke about the first change he made. He indicated that he sought to feature a variety of not only nationally accredited speakers but also those from Hampton Roads.

“I think there are some amazing people within our own community,” stated Dr. Garran, who relayed his focus on getting speakers with local connections to visit Cape Henry.

In the past, Dr. Garran commented that the school has used services such as speakers’ bureaus to find presenters for the series. He explained how the school utilized pre-existing relationships with individuals to choose speakers for this year.

“They can have a great story,” he continued, alluding to those who visit from a speakers’ bureau. “But they might not be able to tell it well. That’s always where you roll the dice.”

Regardless of location, the continuation of the Distinguished Speaker Series has been about engaging the audience, according to Dr. Garran. He commented on the unique situation of high school students put into a professional setting with these speakers.

“For me, being new here, it’s trying to bring in someone who will have a message that will resonate with students and faculty.”

It was clear throughout the entire interview that Dr. Garran views the Distinguished Speaker Series as a tremendous asset to the students of Cape Henry.

“We can learn from them,” he adamantly stated referring to the speakers that have come here. He then went on to outline some of the goals he had for the series this year. “To help all of us to think of things a little differently, to see the world differently.”

This idea was Dr. Garran’s overarching goal for the 2015-2016 Distinguished Speaker Series. In essence, that is the purpose of bringing in speakers, to present stories that may alter the perception of those in the audience.

With this year’s series wrapped up, Dr. Garran looks ahead to the next school year.

“What I’d like to be able to do in the future, is to get some student input as well,” he finished.

He went on to describe his college experience, where his school’s speaker series was run by students. That is a feature he would like to emulate at Cape Henry moving forward. It was important, he noted, that the students have a say in the type of speakers they would like to hear.

With the school year coming to a close, the Distinguished Speaker Series is just one more aspect of Cape Henry to come to an end. Whether the time was used for taking a rest from the day, or if it inspired a new passion, the Series remains a core facet of Cape Henry.

The school and students anxiously await to see how Dr. Garran supersedes his warm-up year.

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