Group speech team travels to Decorah

At State on Saturday, Feb. 3 in Decorah, the performances of CFHS group speech team members made some cry and some laugh.

They were ready to take off to Decorah High School by 6.30 a.m. with their blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and doughnuts. Although it was the big day, they didn’t show it. Instead, they were sleeping, singing songs and cheering each other up.

Coach Margaret McCawley and Chris Apling, who is also working with the UNI speech team, encouraged the team with full support throughout the day. After their 1.5 hour bus ride to a Decorah High School, they unloaded their equipments and started practicing right away. After a short time of practice, they all headed down to a room to watch their friends performances and show team spirit.

The first performance of the day was improv with “Lost In The Car World” by Elise Leasure, Arlo Hettle and Emily McVicker. Improv is short for “improvisational speech” and is considered to be one of the hardest categories in group speech due to its requirements of sophisticated acting skills and creativity.

In this category, the performers are given a topic and two minutes to come up with an act. During their performance, McVicker played as the evil queen of Car World who turns innocent customers into cars; meanwhile, Leasure and Hettle played a crazy couple who are expecting a baby and can’t decide if they want a Prius or a pick-up truck.

Leaving the audience in laughter at the end of their act, the Tigers headed down to another room to watch the readers theater perform.

Readers theater is a different style of theater where the performers tell the story by using vocal expressions only. Michael Riadsky, Meghan Kern, Miranda MaGillvray, Shaffer Kirschenmann, Abigail Balong, Alex Hanson, Heather Wolf, Brigitte Kern and Blake Zimmerman performed an act called “Cut!”

During their performance they made references to the real world through the portrayal of selfishness amongst people, and how they are so invested in their own lives; so much, that they don’t even take the time to look around and notice the little things. sophomore Jenneh Gee said she was impressed.  “I have never seen anything like this.”

Following readers theater was the mime performance. Mime is also considered to be one of the hardest categories in group speech, and it usually confuses people because the requirement is to tell a story with mimics and body language without speaking of any kind.

“Yes, people get confused when they see performers silently moving around at a speech contest,” McCawley said. “I think it would’ve been better if the name was ‘creative performances’ or something like that, because it involves everything. There are funny ways to tell a story and there are serious ways; some prefer to sing and some just don’t speak. That’s the beauty of speech because there aren’t any limitations on how you express yourself, I think it is so empowering to watch the kids create pieces.”

Meghan Kern, Clare Rolinger, Anna Hertz, Alexa Balong and Heather Wolf told a story about a military veteran who has PTSD after her experience with losing her friends amid serving her country. Their intense and emotional performance made some of the audience wipe their tears as they left the room.

The last performance of the day was the musical theater, a style of theater where singing and dancing plays the essential part.

Rolinger, Joel Ochoa, Sylvia Brown, Lydia Ochoa and Ryan Ritter performed “9 to 5.” When they greeted the judges and the audience at the end of their performance, people were already making as much noise as they could to applause the performers while shedding tears of joy.

“I am so proud of them, they did an amazing job,” McCawley said.

Students that join speech love the experience and usually don’t let go till the end of their high schools years.

“Speech is one of the extracurriculars that I have taken part in all four years of my high school career, and I have absolutely loved it,” Rolinger said.

“One of my most prominent memories from a speech contest happened during my junior year mime,” she said. “We were performing a mime about struggling with an eating disorder, which was very personal to many of the individuals in our group, when one of timing officials blew the whistle at five minutes when he was supposed to do so in seven minutes.

“In a panic, our group quickly finished our performance, many of us in the verge of tears. We found out later that we had not gone over the time limit and were actually nominated for All State, which was super exciting.

“Anyway, that mime was really special to me. It was incredible to be a part of something that meant so much for both myself and my fellow mimers, as well as our audience. It’s important to talk about mental health struggles, and I love to use speech as a platform to do so.”

Some speech club members =also point to the benefits of gaining more self-confidence and getting out of their shells. Even though there are a lot of seniors in speech who are graduating this year, McCawley said, “I don’t want to look at the situation from a frame, I am looking forward to meeting new students next year.”

Besides the veterans who have been doing speech for a couple of years, there were also students who had just experienced speech club this year.

“I had a great time in speech this year because of the people and the opportunity,” sophomore Abigail Balong said. “I was involved in the reader’s theater, which was fun itself. Reader’s theater was great because I learned a lot, about talking in front of people. I learned about acting, which I didn’t have much prior experience with.”

Individual speech districts are also coming up Feb. 24.

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