How Effective Were the Pre-recorded Student Council Speeches?


A screenshot of the mpg video files for the student council candidates’ pre-recorded speeches.

This year’s Rectory Student Council members were announced to the Rectory community via email on Friday, October 9th, after an online election spanning just over three days: October 5th through October 8th. The following are the winning members. For on-site students: Giana B., Tyler M., Cesar R., and Julia Z. For online students: Maxtin H., Carson L., Prajna W., and Kaitlyn Y. Unlike in previous years, there will be no president on the council. 

The student council is a group of four to eight ninth-graders who are interested in generating positive changes on campus. There were many changes to the voting process this year due to the COVID restrictions; one was the change in the format of the candidates’ speeches. Under normal circumstances, these speeches are delivered “live” to the entire student body in the Tang Auditorium, and it is mandatory for all students to attend. This year, however, the speeches were pre-recorded and uploaded online, which gave students the option to watch them or not.

Mrs. Colleen O’Neil, Associate Director of Residential Life, sent the recordings of the candidates’ speeches and the ballots for voting to all middle-school students in two separate messages via Schoology. One message contained the six recorded speeches from the candidates who are attending Rectory in-person this fall; the other message had the seven recorded speeches from the candidates who are attending school online. All of these candidates were nominated by the ninth-grade class through a preliminary round of selection.

Out of the 199 middle-school students at Rectory, 187 students voted, which is about 89% of the student body. This is a very high percentage of voter turnout! In all, ninety-one online ballots and ninety-six in-person ballots were received.

However, we wondered how effective the pre-recorded candidates’ speeches were. So The DiRectory sent a survey to our middle-school students asking about the effect these speeches had on how they voted. Here are the interesting results:

Sixty students took our survey (about 30% of the middle-school student body). Of these, 39 were returning students and 21 were new students (65% returning students and 35% new students). Here are some statistics from their responses to our questions about how they voted: 

Prior to watching the pre-recorded candidates’ speeches:

  • 30% of the new students had a candidate preference;
  • 74% of the returning students had a candidate preference;

After watching the candidates’ speeches:

  • 30% of the new students changed who they were going to vote for
  • 51% of the returning students changed who they were going to vote for

In comparison with having the candidates give their speeches to the student body “live” in the Tang, there are some disadvantages to the pre-recorded speeches. For example, some students commented that they easily tired of watching the videos, and they had the option to stop watching the speeches and go directly to voting for the candidates they had already planned to vote for. In contrast, when the speeches are held “live,” all students must listen to all the candidates’ speeches, which may change the way they vote. In looking at the responses of the students who completed our survey, however, it seems that the pre-recorded speeches were very persuasive since many students changed their minds and voted for a different candidate after viewing their speeches!

Overall, with so many students attending school remotely due to the COVID-19 virus, the pre-recorded speeches were effective and well received by the students. Ms. Sangiolo, a learning specialist at Rectory, commented, “When we as a school community are gathered in the Tang, one can feel the energy and support of the student body when giving a speech. Pre-recorded speeches were the next best thing to being in the Tang and allowed candidates to present their ideas virtually.” 

Despite all the inconvenience caused by the COVID restrictions, Rectory’s new student council was successfully inaugurated. Congratulations to all the candidates who were nominated and who recorded their speeches with their ideas for positive change at Rectory! Without your willingness to participate in the democratic process, none of us would have had the opportunity to vote and let our voices be heard. And congratulations to all the winning candidates, both those in-person at Rectory (Giana, Julia, Tyler, and Cesar) and those learning remotely (Prajna, Kaitlyn, Carson, and Maxtin)! It will be an interesting year ahead, and we look forward to seeing some of your ideas implemented on the Rectory campus!