‘Two Seconds’ speech ensemble earns All State

Speech Team students Sophia Woods, Harrison Kirschenmann, Meghan Chagdes, Eli Flikkema and Jamie McDowell have been honored as “All-State Performers” for their acting piece called “Two Seconds.” The award-winning ensemble acting group performed at the IHSSA All-State festival in Ames on Feb. 19 at around 3:30.

McDowell said that “Two Seconds” is a self-written piece that all members of speech took part in editing and writing. The original piece is based on a true story that happened to coach Rob Chagdes. Chagdes composed a speech team this year after talking to Michelle Rathe about the demand for one at CFHS.

 McDowell said Chagdes wrote a general idea for the story that the five All-State performers edited to make a bigger impact. “‘Two Seconds’ is about the intersection of five different people as they go about their night. On this night, a mother, a husband, a police officer, Katie and her boyfriend all meet due to a terrible accident where Katie passes away after being struck by a car. The piece was made to have people realize how much can change in two seconds, as well as how one action can change everything about the night,” he said.

McDowell said the six people working on “Two Seconds,” including the coach, spent a lot of time inside and outside of school. “Our group was made up of some students in the musical so a lot of late nights were spent in the library often running till seven or eight at night. We meet twice a week mostly on Tuesdays and Fridays. We started editing and making changes to the script as well as throwing out staging ideas. After we got the script mostly finished we started putting it all together,” he said

McDowell said All-State was a wonderful opportunity. Monday after the state contest was when the results were broadcasted. “Like I said, a lot of the group members were in the musical so we waited till six to find out who got in. The entire speech team, not just ‘Two Seconds,’ gathered in the library as Chagdes read off the categories and if we made it in or not. Sophia Woods, who played Katie, set up her phone to record our reaction. We worked our way down the list, but when it came to the ensemble acting Chagdes turned his laptop around and the entire group screamed with joy as we hugged. It was worth the wait to see the results together. When the friends you’ve worked so hard with get to read something as simple as ‘Cedar Falls – Two Seconds’ on a small screen, it was definitely one of the best, most rewarding feelings,” McDowell said. 

Although McDowell said he would love to compete again next year, sadly, he won’t because he will be graduating this year. “I joined the speech team my freshman year when my friend needed someone to audition with, and ever since I’ve loved every second,” he said. 

Woods joined the speech team because she said she has always loved performing, especially acting. Woods said she has done group speech for two years. Sophomore year she did improv, and this year, ensemble and improv. She said that speech was special to her because she was able to work hands-on. 

Chagdes let Woods edit the script and rewrite a decent amount, which she said allowed her and the others to find their meaning within the characters. “We started the rehearsal process mid November and had our first performance near the end of January, so we had around two and a half months, including winter break to practice,” she said.

Starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 4 p.m., around a dozen people from the team came along to support the All-Staters, along with family members in Ames. “It was so cool. That’s it. There might be a more eloquent way to put it, but just being able to do something you love so much with people you love so much at the highest level is insane. Even at Districts and States, we would say the last line, put our heads down and hear nothing but silence. That’s the best feeling because the audience doesn’t know whether to clap or not. The whole room, both times, was crying. Knowing that your performance touched people and they’ll leave the room thinking about it is the best feeling in the world. Playing Katie was such a special experience, and it’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” Woods said.

Woods said All-State is a one to four scale. A four is a disqualification, which you only get by breaking a rule. A three is extremely rare and means the performance was a disaster. A two is a broad rating which can either mean you weren’t that good or that you were just shy of getting a one, and one is the highest rating. “The difficult thing about speech ratings is that they are so incredibly subjective. Some groups have gotten scores I never would’ve expected, just because it might not have been the judge’s favorite. The same person could do the same act for two separate judges and get different ratings,” she said.

“All-State is the prize, honestly. We get to say that we’re All-Staters and performed with the best in the state. We didn’t win the judges’ choice banner for ensemble, which is basically an award given by the judges to the favorite team of the day, but none of us expected to. Out of 20 groups, just being there was an honor,” Woods said.

For those interested in joining a speech, McDowell said to do it. There is no experience required and he said it is the most loving community here at CFHS. “Everything you need to know will be taught to you, and you will have fun no matter what,” McDowell said.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.