Senior Chapel Talks: A beloved tradition moves online

The+Vivian+Webb+Chapel+offers+a+place+of+reflection+and+an+opportunity+to+feel+connected+to+Webb%E2%80%99s+history.+This+year+instead+of+being+present+in+the+chapel+the+spirit+of+the+talks+will+move+online.

Laura Haushalter

The Vivian Webb Chapel offers a place of reflection and an opportunity to feel connected to Webb’s history. This year instead of being present in the chapel the spirit of the talks will move online.

Every Webb student dreams of their chapel talk. As a freshman, you sit in the back of the chapel; as each year progresses, you get closer to the podium until eventually you and your classmates are the ones giving the talks. The chapel talk is a special opportunity seniors have to share stories about themselves with the community, before they depart on their next adventure. Yet, this year, senior chapel talks, like every Webb tradition, have had to be modified to fit Webb’s remote learning.  

The first VWS and WSC chapel talks of the year are given by the class presidents. For the class of 2021, Ashley Munguia (‘21) and Gregory Tolmochow (‘21) will give their schools respective opening talks during the week of October 12th 

“It a great honor to give a chapel talk,” said Gregory. I believe no matter where the message is heard from, its importance is the same and its lessons will spark growth in every individual. 

“The purpose of a talk is to allow students from other grades to gain some insight into a senior they might not have previously known, so I hope they can just learn something new about me that they didn’t know before,” said Ashley. “I also added in some appropriate jokes that I’m sure many in the community can appreciate.” 

Seniors begin working on their chapel talks weeks in advance, putting thought and care into their speeches. The process of preparing for a chapel talk is long — you must decide who you would like to give your introduction, your quote readers, and what opening hymn you would like in addition to writing your talk. 

“I started bouncing around ideas for my talk in early July, but I can’t say that I have a definitive process,” said Ashley. “I remember I woke up one day at 3am and sat in my bathroom and typed out a full draft of my chapel talk, although it’s not the one I’m using. I had a lot of vague ideas that I wanted to express in my talk, but I was too lazy to sit down and write until later in the summer.” 

“Writing my talk was easy because I had lots of time to reflect,” said Gregory. The hardest part was deciding my quote readers. 

During the first semesterseniors have two options for how they will give their chapel talk: they can choose between a live zoom chapel talk or making a recording for the community. What chapel will look like in the second semester is still being decided; the Deans and advisors are exploring options for possible in-person chapel talks, but nothing is guaranteed 

Having to give a chapel talk online is disappointing for the class of 2021, but many are up for the challenge 

It is quite upsetting giving a virtual talk because I feel that not many people will hear my message,” said Gregory. “But I figured I will continue the tradition even through harsh times.”  

I am, understandably, disappointed about giving my talk online,” said Ashley. “The senior chapel talk is a tradition I’ve been looking forward to for years, and I don’t think any online substitute can ever replace the feeling of being on the podium speaking to everyone in the chapel. That being said, I want to make the best of it and give a chapel talk as good as an in-person one would be. I’m ready to make it work.” 

The Vivian Webb Chapel, completed in 1944, has decadeslong history of seniors standing on the podium facing their community sharing their talk. From the first moment you tour Webb, you learn about the building of the chapel brick by brick and the meaning of the activity inside 

Chapel talks help create the sense of community that Webbies value. In a year where we have been forced apart, getting to hear from the senior class and having an online substitute for one of the most beloved traditions is important. Attend the virtual chapel talks and take time to listen and reflect on the lessons from the class of 2021.