Chesterton Speech Starts the Season With a Win

Miranda Miller, Sandscript Author

     The Chesterton Speech team is in the midst of preparing for this new and quite different season. Speech is an extracurricular program that allows students to speak in front of an audience and share their personal views and interests.  The program is split into two different types of speaking: interpretation and public address.  Interpretation includes Dramatic and Humorous acting, Duo Interpretation, Prose, Poetry, and Program Oral Interpretation.  Public Address includes Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu, and Broadcasting.  Interpretation is a category of events that is not traditional at the podium speaking and involves more on stage acting.  Public Address is a more professional form of speaking that allows competitors to express their thoughts and beliefs on certain topics using evidence to back their ideas.  Similarly to debate, students compete in front of an audience and are judged.  The judges rank and critique competitors.

     Like the Debate team, the program has been allowed to continue their season virtually with a few changes in how the students will compete.  

     “We will still compete according to our regular schedule. Tournaments will be conducted virtually, so rather than traveling to the host school each weekend, we will either compete in an asynchronous or synchronous format. An interesting part of this setup is that schools are no longer limited by their geography or financial ability to travel; we’ve already seen top-tier schools from around the country in the early tournaments we’ve seen” says head coach Dakota McCoy.

     The students will compete in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (prerecorded) tournaments.  Because the students connect with the judge through their speaking, it will be difficult to compete under these conditions.  Even with these accommodations, McCoy is confident in the team.

     “Our team had some significant changes this year. In addition to saying goodbye to last year’s seniors, who were robbed of their state competition by COVID, we also saw two coaches pursue other goals in education. To replace those two coaches, we brought on four new coaches, each with a unique background and skillset for the activity. I anticipate that despite the challenges ahead, our program will remain a dominant force in Indiana. No one knows how the first virtual state competition will go this year, so we’re moving ahead with a healthy mix of caution and determination” says McCoy.

     Some students who have competed in previous years share their opinions on this year’s season and the new changes to competition.  

     Senior Lily Roberts shares, “It’s really sad having to compete online.  It’s a completely different activity now.  I try to look at the positives, though.  At least we have our activity at all.”

     Likewise, sophomore Gigi Hanner states, “I think it’ll be interesting, it brings a lot of new challenges we aren’t used to.  It would be awesome to be able to compete in person again, but for now, it’s enough to just be competing at all.”

      The program started their season on Saturday, November 7, competing virtually in two tournaments, hosted by Bishop Noll High School and Fishers High School. At the Bishop Noll tournament, there were a lot of competitors who placed in the top six, leading the team to a first-place victory. Freshman Jake Sanders placed sixth in novice Broadcasting.  In varsity Broadcasting, sophomore Gigi Hanner placed fifth and senior Mattea Sklut placed fourth.  In varsity Dramatic Interpretation, Hanner placed third and junior Lindsay Price placed second.  In novice Humorous Interpretation, sophomores Matthew Keane took third and Walter Smith placed second.  In varsity Humorous Interpretation, juniors Hannah Anders placed sixth while Dylan Leavitt won the tournament.  In both novice and varsity Informative Speaking, freshman Jackson Dudek and senior Sklut won the event.  In varsity International Extemporaneous Speaking, Sklut took her second first-place winning of the day.  In varsity Original Oratory, Hanner placed fifth and senior Anna Sanders won the event.  In varsity Prose Interpretation, juniors Arianna Cain placed sixth and Miranda Miller placed second and sophomore Josh Hoover took first. In varsity United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Sklut took the second-place spot.

     On November 7, competitors had the opportunity to compete at the Fishers tournament and the team placed second overall. In varsity Broadcasting, Mattea Sklut placed second. In novice Impromptu, Dudek placed fourth. In both novice and varsity Informative Speaking, Dudek and Sklut took sixth place. In varsity Original Oratory, Anna Sanders placed fifth. In varsity Program Oral Interpretation, Lily Roberts placed sixth. In varsity Prose Interpretation, Sanders placed fourth.

      When asked about this competing this year, junior Dylan Leavitt said, “Online competition has definitely been different, but it is easier and safer in many ways.  I would rather be safe than risk anything.”

     The speech team is scheduled to compete again on November 14 in two tournaments and is expected to be hosted virtually by Westfield High School and the November Springboard Tournament.