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Chapel Talk: Conception Of The Princes[s] Codes

Updated: Oct 27, 2018

In 8th grade, at my middle school, every student had to research a topic and give a speech called a chapel talk. A chapel talk is essentially a final project in which we give an oral presentation to the entire school. It is a project that is met with tremendous excitement but also comes with its share of nerves. Every student, from the first day at Powhatan, looks forward to the opportunity to share a part of themselves through a chapel talk, and I was no exception.

After our English teacher, Ms. Robb gave us the information on the project and showed us some past examples, it was all we talked about. During lunch, the most common conversation starter became “What are you going to do your chapel talk on?” Some people had it all figured out and knew exactly what they wanted to do. Others were still working on a few options. I had trouble deciding at first. During the next English class, I wrote down a couple of ideas including “Hershey Park,” “Stingrays,” and “Google.” There was one idea that I didn’t include on my list: “Disney Princesses.” Anybody who knows me well knows that I have this unconditional love of Disney princesses, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share that part of me with the entire school. I know Disney princesses aren’t exactly the “coolest things” to be obsessed with, so I decided to leave it off the list.

I wasn’t sure how to narrow down my options, so I spoke to my parents for guidance. We were in the car on a long drive, and my dad asked me to read aloud my list of ideas. He was also very excited about this project and was more than ready to teach me all the tricks of the trade when it came to being a captivating speaker. After hearing my list, my dad instantly eliminated Hershey Park because he thought it was too juvenile, and he wanted me to choose something that he considered to be more meaningful. We played with the idea of doing Stingrays, but he decided that it wasn’t very unique. My dad loved the idea of Google as a topic, but I wasn’t sold. It was my least favorite of the topics that I wrote down. I was debating whether to bring up Disney princesses while my dad rambled on about how influential Google has been in creating the modern world that we lived in.

At that point that I realized that I wanted to do something of my own. I didn’t just want to choose a topic to satisfy my parents or meet the guidelines of the assignment. I wanted this speech to be something I was proud of and would enjoy working toward. “What about Disney Princesses” I proposed. My dad shook his head and reiterated that Google is a very powerful and meaningful company. I may be a generally mellow person, but I am also not one to back down when I am passionate about something. I spent the next half hour trying to convince both my parents that Disney Princesses were an appropriate topic for an 8th-grade speech, but my dad was not buying it.

He didn’t understand how such a childish topic could be appropriate for a speech that symbolized coming of age and graduating to the high school level. What he didn’t understand about my love of Disney princesses is that it is deeper than the surface. I don't love the way they look or how they always find true love. I love their strength, curiosity, and bravery. I love that Belle was willing to sacrifice her own freedom to save her father’s. I love that Ariel was brave enough to sacrifice her own voice to achieve her dream of being on the land. I love the fact that in spite of Tiana losing her father, she worked tirelessly to establish her own restaurant. These characteristics make the Disney princesses role models for me every day. They encourage me to fight for my goals. And fight I did.

At the end of my thorough argument, my mom was about 50% convinced, and my dad was about 10% convinced which averaged to about 30%. My dad agreed to let me give my presentation on Disney princesses, but he wanted me to focus on the evolution of their animation. At first, I agreed to his proposal, but when I started researching, I realized that I didn’t want to talk about animation. I wanted to talk about the positive characteristics of Disney princesses, and after a couple more passionate discussions, my dad finally gave in. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but he reluctantly agreed to it.

Convincing my parents was only the first step. Now, I had to persuade my friends to support me because I had another idea: I wanted my friends to dress up as the different Disney princesses and come onto the stage while I talked about their specific princess. I had to give a presentation similar to the one I gave my father and, by the end of this process, I had it perfected. It turned out that creating the presentation was the easiest part. The words just flowed out of me and onto the page. The more I wrote, the more I realized how important Disney princesses have been in my life.

When I finally gave my chapel talk, I loved every second of it. I stood on the stage dressed up as Jasmine as I captivated the audience with my passionate words. By the end, my father was so proud, and I was moved when I saw a single roll down his cheek. I had finally sold him on Disney princesses. I had convinced a strongly opinionated man that Disney princesses are meaningful, powerful, and amazing role models. The process was not easy, and it was met with a lot of objection, but as the emperor said in the movie Mulan “the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”

And this began my journey to The Princes[s] Codes...

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