Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

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Sophomores Share Patriotic Ideas at America: The Conference 2024

The annual event serves as a transformative experience
America%3A+The+Conference+included+visual+art+pieces+like+this+one+as+well+as+presentations+from+members+of+the+sophomore+class.
Photographer: Brian O’Connor
America: The Conference included visual art pieces like this one as well as presentations from members of the sophomore class.

On February 9, 2024, the sophomore class came together on the second floor of Ivy Street Center to participate in this year’s America: The Conference.

The conference is an all-day annual event held just for the sophomore class. Led by teacher Robert Shaw-Smith and held by the English department, the conference prompts students to consider ideas they want to share with the world, specifically about aspects of American culture, cuisine, entertainment, athletics, history, and more.

Members of the sophomore class spent weeks preparing a presentation about some aspect of American society that interested them. Other students took other jobs, such as playing music between presentation times, running the technology needed for presentations, coordinating with the panel and guest speaker, and helping arrange lunches.

Out of the many memorable presentations of the day, some included “Buc-ee’s: The True American Dream,” “The McDifference,” and “LeBron and His Legacy.”

America: The Conference was a transformative experience for many students, as for some it was the first opportunity they have ever had to share their interests and observations about American life with their peers.

The idea for the original event began to formulate after one of Shaw-Smith’s freshman classes presented a museum of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of JD Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. After Shaw-Smith realized that students responded well to sharing their own ideas on a certain topic, America: the Conference was born.

Shaw-Smith shared his hopes for the annual event.

“We’re trying to get them [the sophomores] to think, ‘Hang on, what do I want to say about the world, and where can I say it?’,” he explained.

“Students . . . attend classes,” he continued, “and what I want them to understand is that there is a real excitement in a conference, and they don’t usually experience that in school.”

About the Contributor
Emma Schramm, Staff Writer
Emma Schramm began writing for the The Blue & Gold newspaper in her freshman year and has enjoyed it thoroughly ever since. She is also part of the Marist War Eagle Marching Band and theater production crew. In the meantime, Emma is probably drawing or feverishly negotiating with the publishing industry to get her novel published.