Speech team heads to state | SteamboatToday.com

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Speech team heads to state

Most people probably can think of a lot of things they’d rather do than speak in front of a room full of people.

But members of the Hayden High School speech team have been taking time away from jobs and other activities to hone their public-speaking skills during competitions across the Western Slope.

Four months of hard work will culminate Friday and Saturday when the team competes in the High School Competitive Speech Team State Festival at Heritage High School in Denver. About 35 schools will participate in the festival — the seventh and final competition of the season for the Hayden team, which will compete against 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A schools.

“We’re looking forward to state to see if we can win something this year,” said team leader Gary Shaw, who teaches English and speech and is the leader of the school’s language arts department.

The team’s performance at a recent competition in Carbondale was particularly encouraging.

Senior Hannah Williams placed fifth for her humorous interpretation of columnist Dave Barry’s book, “Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys.” The other students on the team — sophomores Dana Hayes, Lydia Murray and Shirley Vasquez, and junior Dusty Zabel — were recognized as excellent or superior.

Competitions are an opportunity for students to travel to other schools, meet their peers and see how others perform.

“It raises the bar so much higher when they see the level some kids are performing at,” he said. “It’s an eye opener.”

Williams and Vasquez will perform in the humorous interpretation competition in Denver. The contest requires students to present a piece of literature — halfway reading and halfway acting — in a way that best expresses its humor. The students have been performing and refining the piece throughout the season.

Williams also will participate in a creative story-telling competition, which gives students about 15 minutes to develop a three- to five-minute story about a randomly chosen topic. The students then must present the story to the judge.

Hayes’ and Murray’s specialty is duet acting, which involves performing a 10-minute cut from a play. The students have been practicing a selection from a classic 1920s-era play “Our Hearts were Young and Gay,” by Cornelia Otis Skinner. The play is about two 18-year-old girls and the faux pas they commit during their first trip to Europe.

In the debate competition, Zabel will flip a coin with a competitor to determine who will represent the pro and con side of a chosen topic. The students will have 30 minutes to prepare their cases, Shaw said.

Depending on their projects, some students practice more than others, but all team members must be committed and willing to take time off from work and forego school sports, which conflict with weekend competitions, he said.

The sacrifice, however, can have long-term benefits in school and in everyday life.

“Just developing poise and being able to present yourself in front of a room full of people is something they can use for the rest of their life,” Shaw said. If they can think on their feet and deliver a coherent speech, they will be a lot better off.”

The team also is a good way for shyer students to gain confidence, though some may take it to the extreme.

“I always have mixed feelings because I start with a bunch of introverts, and by the end of the year they are all obnoxious,” he said.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com