Eight speech teams advance to the state competition

Sophomores Leah Takes and Josh Mitchell practice for the one-act, a story about a girl who dies after a car accident and her journey to the afterlife.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, a group of CFHS students stood in front of a panel of judges, performing acts they had started rehearsing months ago. The district large group speech contest took place at Hampton-Dumont High School. The speech team sent 11 acts down to perform, and eight of them qualified for the state competition, which will take place on Feb. 8. 

For sophomore Ahmad Madlock, this was his first time competing as a member of the speech team. “So far our season is going really well. Our team has been very successful, and state qualifying or not, each and every event is very proud of what they’ve created,” Madlock said.

Categories at large group speech can span from mime to improv to musical theater. Students from all across the district perform and are given a rating, with a one being the highest score. This is also the contest where students can be selected to move on to the state competition. 

For many students in speech, getting to perform the pieces they’ve been rehearsing at contest is the highlight of the season. “Saturday’s competition was a phenomenal experience for all of us. The level of support in the room from everyone, even though it was a competition, was amazing,” Madlock said. 

The members of the speech team have been hard at work since early fall, choosing pieces and rehearsing. Catherine Bettag is coaching for the second year in a row and has worked on choosing pieces that students are interested in. 

“Some scripts were decided on ahead of time; others were made with student input. Some of the categories required our students to create their own pieces, and we chose to write two pieces for our one-act and ensemble acting categories,” Bettag said.

For students involved in the one-act play, this piece is close to home. “Our one-act was written entirely by our assistant speech coach Danae Dieken and the entire cast of the one-act. It’s about this girl who gets hit by a car and dies and her journey into the afterlife,” Bettag said.

For Bettag, watching students compete and improve on their craft is one of the most rewarding parts of coaching speech. “One of my favorite moments was when I watched the one-act for the first time, I wasn’t expecting to cry actual tears, and I did,” Bettag said, “and it wasn’t because I was proud of the kids, but it was because what they wrote was so emotionally moving that it brought me to tears, so that was a really amazing experience.”

Now that district contest is done, the team is busy with preparations for the state contest. They will host a showcase night at the high school on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. to feature some of their pieces. 

“At the showcase on Friday we will be presenting at least four of our pieces, but our main focus will be our two ensemble actings, our musical theater group that is moving on to State, and our one-act, which are our biggest pieces. It’s really awesome to be able to present the pieces that our kids worked so hard to complete,” Bettag said.

When it comes to the state competition, most students are working toward making All-State, an honor that few competitors receive. “If I’m being honest, I’d like to make it to All-State, but I’m mostly just hoping to have as good of a time as I did Saturday. I can’t wait to see what improvements the other groups have done,” Madlock said.

Bettag agreed that although she wants all groups to advance, the most important part is giving the best performance possible. “My main hope is that we come away with a lot of ones, but mostly that we just perform our best and have a great time. It would be really awesome to send people on to All-State, but I think most of us will be just super happy to do our best at State,” Bettag said.

For Madlock, the most memorable moments have taken place offstage with his teammates. “One of my favorite moments was before performing our one-act nearly all the cast got in a big group and we huddled and shared our support and love for one another,” Madlock said. “It was a moment I’ll never forget, and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say there’s nothing like performing something you love with people you love.”


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