So What Was Hype?


At 6:15 a.m Thursday,students entered the annex running on coffee (for the lucky few), excitement, and stress, anxious for HYPE to begin. The words “it’s too early” and “I am not actually awake right now”  circulated throughout the hallway, echoing in schools throughout the region, as students elsewhere prepared to join Souhegan, at UNH, for the long awaited discussion.

     The buses departed at 6:30, heading towards a day full of intelligent  conversation, new people, and for those in need of a little more incentive: a delicious food bar stocked full of pizza, stir fry, chicken fingers, and dessert.

     A breakfast buffet and an inevitably chaotic registration process met students entering UNH. Students filed in, staring wide eyed at one another, as they took in the sheer number of muffin eating, philosophy enthusiasts, restlessly standing around them. As Eric Martin of New Market observed “Wow! There are A LOT of people here!” Damion Neth of Derryfield reiterated Martin’s remark shortly later, exclaiming “I really was not expecting this many kids! I’m excited!”  Once registered, students were equipped with HYPE squad bags, which Cameron, lead of Bedford High school’s mechanical department  deemed “pretty cool”. “    

     Written in bold print and centered on the top of the name tags – which hung from the lanyards conveniently fastened around the students’ necks- was the group number and room number assigned to each student. Once all the group members had gathered together, students engaged in a variety of icebreaker activities, such as pictionary, pattycake, two truths and one lie, and even two lies and one truth. On the walk over to HYPE’s first event, new friends giggled and laughed; group 6 especially caught up in assessing which fruit best fits their personality.  

     The topic of the year was Freedom of Speech, and so it was altogether fitting that HYPE kick off with a panel of political cartoonists, who through the use of their pen and paper, test the limits of the first amendment everyday. The panel members, despite having very different life experiences, were united in the belief that political cartoons created to expose issues, rather than attack them, should not be censored. The panel members’ advice and stories served as a nice segway into the student led discussions, which would expand the idea of censorship to topics such as: school uniforms, LGBTQ clubs, the human body, and religion’s role in schools.

     The facilitators-Souhegan students- of each room started out their group’s discussions in different ways, some choosing to start out with chalk talks, while others dove right into Socratic seminars. Room 175 began with a chalk talk that focused primarily on the stigma behind words. One quote read: “why should we fear speaking the truth” with the responses “Is there really an objective truth” and “nah.” Room 135 talked briefly of “helicopter parents” and Room 165 discussed the necessity of bleeping out inappropriate words on the radio.

    After 70 minutes the discussions although technically over, continued out into the hallways and  into the cafeteria.  After lunch and short closing ceremony it was time to head back to Souhegan. HYPE had been a success, as Alex Williams confirmed, stating “I thought today was wonderful, it went way better than I would have ever thought.”