Speech students advance to state tournament
Students in the Northland are preparing to travel down to the Minnesota High School League state tournament on April 21-22 at Apple Valley High School. Denfeld, East, Marshall and Hermantown high schools all have representatives preparing to speak their pieces.
Speech is a competitive activity where students pick one of 13 speaking categories. Performance-based interpretive categories include humorous interpretation, serious drama, prose or poetry interpretation, creative expression and duo interpretation. Public address categories cover informative speaking, original oratory, great speeches, extemporaneous speaking and discussion. Draw categories include extemporaneous reading and storytelling. Students pick a category, then either write their own speech or find selections from published works to create a piece. Contestants perform speeches at several meets from January to April before moving on to the sectional competition. The top three speakers in each category advance to state.
Two Duluth Denfeld students, seniors Anna Leonard and Conor Reindl, will advance to the state AA tournament.
This is Leonard's second trip to state, last year she competed with a partner in duo interpretation. This year, Leonard is on her own in the category of serious prose interpretation, meaning her competition piece, "Babies," originates from a book or short story.
"It's about a woman who is in her mid-30s, going through her life so far, not really thinking about her future. But when all her friends around her get pregnant, she realizes that she really does want a baby," Leonard said. "It's a piece that gives me a chance to express all these emotions that I've mostly bottled up and be dramatic."
But perhaps not quite as dramatic as her fellow state attendee, Conor Reindl, who competes in the category of serious dramatic interpretation, which means his piece is a monologue from a play or one-act. Reindl joined speech as a sophomore and this is his first trip to state.
"I'm excited, but a little anxious because I know I need to do a lot more practicing and polish up my own speech," Reindl said. "Speech for me has really been an outlet to discover my confidence and my speaking abilities. Because of that I think I've become a more responsible person."
The six Duluth East high school students advancing to the state AA tournament are senior Emma McNamee in serious poetry, senior Glory Gross in serious poetry, senior Flannery White in extemporaneous speaking, junior Matthew Campbell in creative expression and sophomores Jay Vaidyanathan and Christian Chederquist in duo interpretation.
This is senior Flannery White's first trip to state after her first time competing in the sectional competition.
"I've always had other obligations during sections, so this is such a nice way to end speech. I'm excited to spend time with my fellow extemp speakers and seniors. For me it's not so much about the competition, but a celebration of what speech has been for me over the last three years of my life," White said.
White competes in the draw category extemporaneous speaking, which means she performs a new seven-minute speech she's just written in response to a randomly selected topic in every round of every meet. At any given competition, she has to perform three to four new speeches, with seven to nine cited sources, prepared in just 30 minutes.
"You might be asked to speak about executive orders or how the Democratic Party is functioning as an opposition party in Congress," White said. "You have to be very organized and prepared for anything."
This is also junior Matthew Campbell's first trip to state and his first year on the team. Campbell joined intending to perform a duo with a friend, but soon found that a poem he'd written about his struggles with depression would make a good creative expression piece.
"It was a little weird because I've never talked about it to many people, let alone a crowd full of strangers," Campbell said. "But I think it's been helpful for my depression. And it's certainly improved my writing, thanks to the critiques and feedback from coaches and judges."
Hermantown senior Daylen Moore is the lone state AA tournament representative from Hermantown High School. She competes in the category of serious dramatic interpretation with her piece, "The Lights of Hollywood." It's her second trip to state, but her first trip on her own as last year she competed with a partner in duo interpretation. "You have to be confident in your performance," Moore said. "It's been a fantastic experience."
Moore has competed in speech since eighth grade. She and her fellow seniors performed their speeches for their friends and family on April 11 in the Hermantown Middle school library.
The five students advancing to the state A tournament from Duluth Marshall School are Jack Schenk in discussion, Zachary Kaplan in extemporaneous speaking, Phoenix Braxton-Brown in extemporaneous speaking, Sahen Rai in original oratory and Kellyn McKee in original oratory.