ABOUT Speak UP!
The past few years have been overwhelming with national and international news of sexual assaults, bullying and harassment, identity struggles, depression and suicide. Speak UP! is an award-winning play originally written and performed by then Santa Margarita students Raiya Browning '18, Hannah Billups '18, Hannah Loessberg '18 and Griffin Webb '18 with graphics and branding by John Luke Pohlson '18. The play gives voice to some of the most troubling and traumatic issues facing young people today. These often taboo topics are brought to the stage in a powerful 25-minute performance that serves as a catalyst for conversation afterward. Speak UP! seeks to educate and empower young people and to equip adults with the tools they need to listen and support them. The play and framework of care digital toolkit has been made available nationally to the educational theatre community.
While the play portrays intense experiences related to mental health, the professionals recognize that many youth or their friends struggle with these issues and it is important to have conversations about these topics to prevent increased mental health risks. When student audiences are asked if they or someone they know has been personally affected by one of these issues, every student says yes. However, they also say they aren’t really talking about this with their parents or other adults.
As part of our continued efforts to give our students tools to be compassionate and resilient as they encounter stressors in their lives, SMCHS offers parents of sophomore, junior and seniors the opportunity to attend Speak UP! performances. The goal of these performances is to give parents an opportunity to hear about adolescent experiences from adolescents themselves and then discuss how to be better prepared to talk with and support their teens, particularly as they are navigating dating, parties, what they are seeing and hearing, and preparing for life away from home. Each presentation is followed by a panel discussion with newly trained Speak UP! ambassadors, campus ministry, counseling and wellness staff. Additionally, sophomore students have the opportunity to view Speak UP! and participate in talkbacks afterward as part of the sophomore curriculum.
Speak UP! Ambassador Program
If you need immediate assistance please utilize Text A Tip, the Orange County Warmline at (714) 991-6412, or in the event of an emergency dial 911.
Speak UP! ambassadors are students trained as peer helpers to provide confidential, safe social-emotional support to classmates.
- offer resources and decision-making assistance
- help in talking to an adult
- guidance with problem-solving
- referrals to professionals
Request to speak with a Speak UP! ambassador using the form below.
- “I will talk to my parents more.”
- “Treat girls with more respect.”
- “I will absolutely adopt a new perspective and make sure that i treat everyone i encounter with respect and friendliness.”
- “Make sure to be more aware of the people around me.”
- “I want to change. I want to help myself and help others. I want to use my talents to see change. I want to be the cause of that change. For a long time I've done nothing, and I don't want to do nothing anymore.”
- “If I witness bullying or abuse or anything like that i will report it.”
- "It opened my eyes to accepting these issues are real and can occur...and to be prepared."
- "This is more powerful than any speakers we've had.”
- “ …great opportunity to open the conversation."
- “Happy that we are talking more with faculty and staff about student support of mental health issues.”
- “Profound, thought provoking, starting point for better education on warning signs…”
- “Every student at SM should see this.”
“I was SO impressed with the maturity and well-articulated comments from the students. A truly amazing group and a wonderful way to bring light to this very important subject. I am excited for the continued relationship with SMCHS!”
“I have no doubt everyone in attendance last night will always remember that performance. I also believe that it will have a ripple effect and people will act.”
“We are all so excited for what the future holds! [for this project]!”
“Santa Margarita Catholic High School strives to bring the nurturing charism of Caritas Christi-the love of Christ-to our community of faith and learning.” So begins the mission statement for our charism providing us with the connection between what we believe and who we are and the importance of this play. Our charism has four core principles: Compassion, Humility, Justice and Goodness, all of which are evidenced in SPEAK UP! The compassion to affirm the inherent value and dignity of each person. The humility to use one’s gifts in service to others. The justice to seek and promote the well-being of others and the goodness to encourage one another and to build one another up. The power of one individual’s actions is ultimately what SPEAK UP! demonstrates along with the importance of loving one another for who we are – that is the love Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated in His earthly ministry and continues to demonstrate through the Good News of the Gospel. “By embodying Gospel values, we can be the heart of Christ in the world today.”
- Ray Dunne, Principal Emeritus, Founding Chair of the Caritas Christi Committee