Raina Andrew ’26
Chapel is a fascinating and special part of the St. Andrew’s weekly schedule. Students meet once a week for chapel where they choose to use this time as a service, or as time to unwind and reflect on the long week. During the chapels over the course of the school year, multiple guest speakers come to St. Andrew’s to share their opinions on current events and some of their personal life experiences.
Every chapel there’s a different topic and a guest speaker is usually brought in to share their experience or point of view. Students were asked about their opinions on guest speakers, and Sophomore Sofia Caicedo said, “I think the guest speakers in chapel range from really engaging to some that are less interesting. So far I’ve had a mainly positive experience with guest speakers. It is really interesting to hear other people’s stories and perspectives on certain topics and issues.”
Guest speakers provide new perspectives on issues around the world while also giving their opinions on their own real-life experiences. These speakers are a very distinctive aspect of how St. Andrew’s integrates new opinions that you may have not heard elsewhere. Ninth grader Lucas Anderson said, “Guest speakers are very substantial and they open students’ eyes to the world around them, especially lower school students who haven’t gotten to experience the true world and middle schoolers as well as freshmen who have [only] partially experienced this.” He added, “Everyday, everyone can have a good takeaway from the weekly chapel talk.” St. Andrew’s makes sure that guest speakers give useful and inspiring thoughts to students of all age groups. The speakers are inclusive and they strive to make sure that everyone can take something of value away from the service. Lower and Middle school students sometimes have strong opinions about current issues or events and guest speakers often help to open their minds and bring awareness to matters that they may not have known about.
Freshman Nadia Stendevad, who agreed with Lucas Anderson about the importance of chapel speaker’s new perspectives, said “I enjoy having guest speakers during chapel. I think it is important for us to hear from new voices outside of the community about topics that we might not always talk about.” She also said, “It introduces us to new views on certain situations or beliefs. It is exciting to hear about others’ perspectives and personal experiences so that we can be more aware of the outside world and take what we have learned and apply it in the future. It is inspirational and very intriguing.” She mentioned that, “I feel like [these speakers] make chapel more enjoyable and different each time so it’s not the same thing each week.” Guest speakers also bring various beliefs with them into our space. For example, we have a service centered around the High Holy Days, which helps students learn more about the Jewish holidays in September.
Talia, a junior at St. Andrew’s said, “I like how St. Andrew’s chooses many different speakers from various backgrounds. There’s always some new topic we cover in chapel that helps me stay engaged and the speakers are also very interactive with students which I also like.”
She further stated, “St. Andrew’s also brings in speakers with high credibility and a lot of experience in the topic they talk about so I’m able to learn a lot from what they talk about.”
Guest speakers make chapel very engaging when we are either reflecting quietly after a chapel talk or intently listening to a story from a speaker. When guest speakers share, you can always find strong takeaways from their speeches and one can learn about what not to do, how to make good life decisions, or how to better yourself as a person.
Guest speakers also engage students in different ways while they are on campus. Sophomore Alex Chalmers said, “Guest speakers in chapel talks are beneficial because they provide new perspectives on the world which often sparks interest in students who are not fully engaged in the speaker’s topic. Guest speakers are more engaging because students are often able to relate to the speaker more; their perspectives are much less sugar-coated and they can give insight into the real world.” He further mentioned that, “Most speakers come with knowledge of topics typically left out in the school curriculum and some come with stories that cannot be made up.”
Photograph via the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School