NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Speechapalooza to return

NECC’s annual fundraising event, Speechapalooza, will be returning as an online event this spring with new adviser Kimberly Lyng at the helm and hosted by students enrolled in the Principles of Public Relations course, introducing speaking talents of various members of the college community while collecting donations for a charitable cause.

The overall planning for this event is in the early stages of development and the protocols will be set in the near future, but it is not too early to consider to be part of this well received public speaking and fundraising event. This fact is reinforced by Lyng, coordinator of journalism/communication, as well as serving as adviser of Speechapalooza, stating “students that are considering participating and/or have any questions are welcomed to contact me through my NECC email.” Lyng can be reached at

In the past, this event has spotlighted talented student speakers who come from all over the Merrimack Valley and beyond. Speech topics have been as wide and varied as the students that have delivered them. Some past speech topics have included battling drug addiction, the clarification of biomedical engineering, life in auto racing and how to start your own Youtube channel – to name a few.

Andrew Venditti of Haverhill, one of last year’s student co chairs of the event, had been quoted as saying, “Our line upis a wonderful reflection of the students coming to our school.”

Students are free to present on a topic they are passionate about while strengthening their communications skills.

Any interested students participating in various communication classes are encouraged to participate.

David Rattigan, Adjunct Professor and last year’s adviser, confirms this and states, “the feedback I’ve received from participating public speaking students is that it’s been worthwhile. They enjoyed the challenge, and it’s been enjoyable to watch them succeed as speakers outside the classroom.”

In regards to the selection process, Rattigan went on to say, “I think it varies for each teacher running the event, Dean Amy Callahan founded it and ran it until last year, but what we did last year is had a PR student curate the speeches. The student then wrote emails asking all public speaking teachers to make recommendations and send us recordings that we held in Dropbox. She picked the ones she liked best, and accepted my recommendation on two or more that we needed to fill out the program.”

The student Rattigan was referring to was one of the many novices studying communications who were part of the process of making this event come to life despite of COVID. It didn’t come about without its challenges.

Jonas Ruzek of Amesbury, a former NECC student and one of last year’s Executive Planning Committee Co-Chairs stated, “I thought the whole process to be challenging. It was difficult to organize in-person let alone remotely.” Ruzek further went on to say, “So when we did decide to keep organizing remotely, it was hard to get motivated; we were considering not doing it after all. But we held several long Zoom meetings and got to work fairly quickly.”

The committee divided tasks among all the members. Some of the duties io n the past years, included emailing professors, publishing articles in the NECC Observer, making advertising posters, creating Instagram and YouTube accounts, conducting media research, creating a media contact list as well as hosting the online event.

Trey Cruz of Lawrence and a Speechapalooza host of 2020’s venue was quoted stating, “The tenacity with which our PR students pursued this event shows a lot about how hard-working NECC communications students are.”

In light of COVID, in the Spring of 2020, Allison M. Dolan-Wilson, the NECC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NECC Foundation, assisted the students into incorporating the Student Emergency Fund into the online event. This fund provided laptops and/or internet access, tuition assistance and stipends for students dealing with the challenges of learning remotely.

COVID is still among the populace, but Spring is headed our way and with this new season, there is a new group of students who, albeit remotely, will be facilitating Speechapalooza.

The event, in continued tradition, will be run by the students of the communication course, Principles of Public Relations. Lyng stated, “As part of this process, the PR students are involved in figuring out what date they want to hold this event, what media platforms they want to use, what charity will be recognized and how they plan to promote it. By being part of this entire process, students learn what real PR professionals go through when they are actively planning and promoting an event for their organization.”