On Tuesday afternoon we held the first gathering of the Stride-Darnley Society of this academic year. The Society exists to encourage debate and enable our students to develop their skills in the art of public speaking.

At this meeting three of our Sixth Form students delivered presentations on subjects that they had a particular interest in.

First up was Kriti, who spoke about the important topic of organ donation. She explained about the fact that from Spring 2020, organ donation in England will move to an ‘opt out’ system which means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. Kriti spoke knowledgeably about the difference organ donation can make and the emotional impact that it can have on both a donor’s family and the organ recipient. Her presentation also included information about scientific advances in stem cells, the printing of 3D organs and ex vivo lung perfusion –an innovative therapy applied to donor lungs outside of the body before transplantation that improves organ quality and makes lungs that were previously unsuitable safe for transplant.

Following on was Anastasia, who changed the tone completely with her funny and engaging presentation which asked “Were the Simpsons Geniuses?” Anastasia considered each member of the famous cartoon family in turn, highlighting instances in various episodes during which it could be argued that the characters were hiding their true selves. The main argument was that the characters, with the exception of Lisa, chose to be considered as “dumb”, rather than allowing their true genius to shine through in an attempt to have an easier life. During her talk Anastasia also spoke about the universal appeal of the show and the moral messages promoted in each episode.

The final speaker of the afternoon was Max who was questioning the over-reliance on formula in popular music. Max spoke about how, in his opinion, too many pop songs contain multiple, repeated uses of the I–V–vi–IV chord progression. He admitted that whilst there were positives in the sense that songs are catchy, they make money, and work well in live shows, the formulaic nature of writing songs in that way strips out individuality and expression. Through his presentation Max lamented the monotony of the musical landscape and suggested a need for artists to actually be artists – to be more creative and come up with fresh and innovative sounds.

The event provided a hugely interesting end to the school day. Whilst each covering completely different subject matter, all of the presentations were very well put together and provided the watching audience with a great deal of food for thought!