Speak for Them

Pop Quiz!

Choose the best answer.

In high school I was a ________________.
1. Jock or Cheerleader
2. Thespian or Suffering Artist
3. Plain Jane
4. None of the Above

In high school I excelled in________________.
1. Gym
2. Foreign Language
3. A little bit of everything
4. None of the Above

In high school I had ________________.
1. Many friends
2. A few friends
3. One friend
4. None of the Above

High school was ________________.
1. the best time of my life!
2. a place where I could grow and mature.
3. overrated.
4. None of the Above

Answer Key

Mainly 1’s: You’re most like Nicole. In high school you could “do anything that involves a ball and a whistle” (Anderson 19). You participated in every sport offered and you thoroughly enjoyed competition.

Mainly 2’s: You’re most like Rachel/Rachelle. In high school you befriended foreign exchange students, experimented with foreign trends, and acted more mature than you really were.

Mainly 3’s: You’re most like Heather. Motivated to fit in, you tried to join every school club without success. You were willing to compromise your character in order to become accepted.

Mainly 4’s: You’re most like Melinda Sordino. You were an outcast.
(Outcast: one that is cast out or refused acceptance (as by society) : PARIAH)

Melinda starts her first year of high school out with a bang:
On the bus, wrappers thrown at the back of her head
In the cafeteria, mashed potatoes thrown at her chest
During Art, a complicated and perplexing assignment

Welcome to high school!


1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have time to get to your class before the bell rings.
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with you in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly.
(Anderson 5-6)

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak , high school is told through the unedited thoughts of Melinda, the outcast.


Melinda was not always an outcast. In middle school she was a normal teenager; she had friends; she enjoyed life.

However, after a horrifying accident prior to her freshman year, Melinda morphed into a social outcast.

#1 Party Foul:
When at a party, do not EVER call the cops.

Her peers see her as a rat, but they do not know what really happened.

Her ex-best friend Rachel shoots daggers at Melinda with her eyes.

Because everyone knows the #1 Party Foul.

In Art class, Melinda finds brief escapes from the nightmares of her accident, yet she continues to struggle her way through freshman year.


1. You will use algebra in your adult lives.
2. Driving to school is a privilege that can be taken away.
3. Students must stay on campus during lunch.
4. The new text books will arrive any day now.
5. Colleges care more about you than your SAT scores.
6. We are enforcing the dress code.
7. We will figure out how to turn off the heat soon.
8. Our bus drivers are highly trained professionals.
9. There is nothing wrong with summer school.
10. We want to hear what you have to say.
(Anderson 148)

Because Melinda cannot tell anyone about the accident, she finds herself acting as an introvert who only speaks on occassion. Unfortunately, her teachers, excluding Mr. Freeman the Art teacher, brush Melinda to the side.

In mainstream education, introverts and problematic students are pushed to the wayside. As a future educator, Speak has heightened my awareness of shy students and students who are seriously hurting.

Speak candidly addresses social issues, like peer pressure, acceptance, rape, and self-harm. Educators can use Speak to talk about these issues.

There is excellent material educators can access to involve introverts during class and there are also numerous resources for educators to help hurting students.

Students with these problems are in our K-12 public education.

We must speak up for them.