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Talking to Walls: Three Successful Speech Meets

By Rebecca Onnen

Saturday mornings are great for sleeping in, getting up to a leisurely breakfast, and lounging around in your pajamas.  However, in a different world, some high school students are up before dawn so that they can board a bus at seven in the morning, dressed business-casual.  These students sing “The Circle of Life” to the sun to greet it on the horizon before starting a long day of talking.  These students are the members of the speech team.

For many Lincoln Lutheran students, the speech team is an obscure group who keeps to itself.  Sophomore Julia Pomerenke observed that many speechies are “the musical type, especially at our school.”  Junior Audrey Rich added “[They are]very involved in … speech…very dedicated.”  She also mentioned that speech “Seems kind of closed off from everything else.”   Due to the unconventional nature of speech, students who aren’t acquainted with it tend to remain unaware of it.

As the name implies, speech is an activity where the participants speak.  Seeing as that explanation is rather redundant and not at all helpful, a better explanation is in order.  In speech, students are given “opportunities express ourselves using our acting and speaking talents,” says junior Aine Lambrecht, a seasoned speech member, often called a “speechie”.  There are many diverse types of speeches, which means that one meet covers every topic from “my husband recently devolved into a salamander” to “I can’t rob a bank without being well-dressed” to serious, political, humorous, and dramatic speeches.  Some take memorization to every nuance and some, such as impromptu speaking, allow five minutes of preparation from the time the competitor draws his or her topic until the time the speech is given. 

A typical day at a speech meet is a rather unique experience in and of itself.  “Along the [gym] walls, you see people standing in front of walls and talking to them, no big deal.” notes junior Rachel Wheeler.  “They practice their speeches that way.” As the day progresses, “you go and you present your speech.  There are two rounds and in between them you have usually about an hour,” says junior Nathan Gebers.  During this time, “you either sleep, eat, or go nuts,” adds Rachel.  “Then, after that,” Nathan continues “there are finals where the top people from both rounds go into finals and then they compete in a battle of the death type thing.  Sometimes they use swords, usually they just use fists. After that they have awards ceremonies.” In the typical manner of a speechie, Nathan may be exaggerating just a little.  There are no battles to the death, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be extremely competitive.  Fortunately, outside of the rounds, speech kids are known for being friendly and sociable, meaning everyone gets along fairly well at speech.

Another stereotype of speechies that is certainly not unfounded is the idea that they are all insane.  When asked to describe the activity’s appeal, Nathan Gebers thought for a moment before answering “Speech is like slowly rubbing orange marmalade all over the wall.  It’s just kind of a fun thing you do.  …You know that it’s really fun and it’s totally okay to do.  It’s just really enjoyable.”  Needless to say, there’s never a dull moment in speech.  However, it is also an activity that builds important life skills. “Speech is good for preparing for college and in the workplace,” says speech junior Aine Lambrecht. 

It undeniably takes a certain personality to do speech, but that doesn’t make it a throw-away activity.  The 2013-2014 Lincoln Lutheran speech team has attended two meets so far this year, and hosted one, and sent someone to finals at each meet.  Junior Sammy Williams placed sixth in Extemporaneous speaking at Ashland-Greenwood on January 18th, and juniors Nathan Gebers and Rebecca Onnen placed eighth in Duet Acting at Lincoln Southwest on January 25th.  The Lincoln Lutheran Invitational meet was on February 1st and six out of the eight Lincoln Lutheran events that performed made it to finals.  In Duet Acting, juniors Rachel Wheeler and Zach Kunz placed 6th, and Nathan Gebers and Rebecca Onnen placed 5th; in Extemporaneous speaking, Sammy Williams placed 2nd and sophomore Hallie Hohbein made her speech debut and performed well; in Impromptu speaking, Sammy Williams placed 6th; in Oral Interpretation of Poetry, Aine Lambrecht placed 3rd and Rebecca Onnen placed 2nd.  Lincoln Lutheran is also hosting conference speech on March 1st.  If you would like to experience a meet, the speech team would love to have you visit. 

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