While most adults fear public speaking, Lansing teen Cooper Packard believes that effective communication is the key to thriving.
The Marian Catholic High School senior captured the IHSA state title in Special Occasion Speaking in February, competing with students from 40 other Illinois schools.
Packard’s speech, titled “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”, argued against society’s view of sexism as normal. He also qualified in the Original Comedy event, performing a self-written story, “Like Father, Like Son.”
“I grew up with a pretty noticeable lisp, so speaking hasn’t always been my forte. But you just have to think of public speaking in the same light as you do speaking informally to your friends,” Packard said.
“Plus, when you care about what you’re saying, it won’t be a chore,” he added.
The son of Cathi and Mike Packard, Packard maintains a 3.86 grade point average on a scale of 4.0 at Marian Catholic and is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish National Honor Society.
He will play antagonist Lord Farquaad in "Shrek the Musical," running tonight through Sunday at the school’s Croarkin Theatre.
Although not sure of a college major, Packard hopes to continue speaking publicly.
“I know for sure that I’d like to continue to write and speak about things I think everyone should know," Packard said. "Ideally, I’ll have the opportunity to continue writing and making people laugh in my future profession.”
“My family has definitely inspired me to continue being creative with my aspirations and talents. My friends, too, continue to bring out the best in me and inspire me to impact others positively,” he added.