Several Speech team members qualify for state competition
By Vanessa Gibson, Staff Writer
Carroll High School’s Speech team kicked off their season earlier this school year during October. This season is quickly coming to an end as the team approaches the state competition on March 12. Speech Coach Michael Schaffner is pleased on how well the season has gone thus far.
Schaffner was assistant coach for the Speech team last year but, decided to become the head-coach after the old coach and former Carroll English teacher, Philip Fretz, stepped down. While transitioning to a new coach, the Speech team also had to deal with the fact that they lost about half of their team to graduating seniors.
Despite this loss, Schaffner believes that the team is performing exceptionally well.
“We’ve retained a lot of talent and then we gained some new talent as well,” Schaffner said. “Seeing new students grow and their skills develop was really easy to trace.”
This year’s team has a lot of students on both ends of the spectrum; there are quite a few seniors and there are also a lot of freshmen. Although this year’s team will not lose as many seniors as last year, Schaffner hopes to recruit more freshmen next year in order to build the team back up.
Three of those seniors are A.J. Hagemann, Sophie Lahey, and Nathanael Falater.
Hagemann joined the team as a freshman and has been participating in the speech event International Extemporaneous Speaking for all four years. In this event, a person will pull out three different questions or topics. The competitor will then decide on one of the topics to research, create a seven minute speech out of it, memorize it, and then deliver that speech to the judges. A participant will only have 30 minutes to research the topic, thus the event can be quite nerve-racking.
“A lot of people are really intimidated by it [International Extemporaneous Speaking],” Hagemann said, “because they hear that they have half an hour to write a speech and it can be quite panicky.”
Hagemann explained that for a lot of people who participate in extemporaneous, it is because they were persuaded by their teammates or coaches. But, he believes that once people try it they say “‘wow that was great, I’m going back to that.’”
For Hagemann, the challenge of this event is what intrigued him. He generally enjoys current events and having to be able to think of information quickly.
“I think it is wonderful,” Hagemann said. “I like the quicker [events].”
In order to prepare for this event, Hagemann says that it is important to stay up to date on current global events. Knowing general ideas of certain trends is beneficial in case you receive some topics that you don’t know a lot about.
“You just have to stay up to date on current events,” Hagemann said, “on what is happening in the world, and have at least general trends in your head so in case you have got something about a country that you have no idea about you have some knowledge about the general principles of that area in order to make a speech.”
Lahey also participates in extemporaneous speaking, but focuses on United States issues instead of international subjects. Unlike Hagemann, Lahey was hesitant at first to participate in this event. However, once she tried it, she found the event to be quite fun and has continued to do it for four years.
Lahey also partakes in the event Impromptu Speaking, which is similar to extemporaneous except the speech stems from a word, quote, or person and competitors have 30 seconds to think of a five minute speech. This short time span requires one to think fast and concisely.
“It gets scary,” Lahey said, “but it helps you to be able to think on your feet.”
She believes that this type of pressure can help when doing other activities of high stress like interviews or presenting in class.
Falater has been a part of Carroll’s Speech team for three years and has had first hand experience with the anxiety that public speaking can create.
Falater participates in the events Memorized Duo Interpretation and Declamation. In Memorized Duo, two partners will select a piece of literature and will take the entire piece and organize it into a ten minute long performance. The two play all of the characters by using a variety of different gestures and voices; however, they are not allowed to directly interact with each other through touch or sight.
“That’s kind of the challenge in Duo,” Falater said, “you have to interact with your partner and do all of the gestures that you normally would, but you can’t do it by touching or looking at each other, so you have to be creative with how you do that.”
Declamation is similar to Memorized Duo with the exception that it is an individual event. A participant will pick a speech that has already been given by someone else and deliver it as their own, again within a ten minute time-period.
At first, doing Declamation felt strange to Falater who was used to always having a partner. However, with more practice he has gotten used to the event and even likes it just as much as Memorized Duo.
On February 27, the Speech team travelled to DeKalb High School for Sectionals. There competitors that place in the top 6 qualify for the state tournament. At the competition, Hagemann placed second in International Extemporaneous Speaking, Lahey placed second in United States Extemporaneous Speaking and fourth in Impromptu Speaking, and Falater and his partner placed second in Memorized Duo Interpretation. Thus, all three seniors will be performing at the state competition on March 12.
Hagemann believes that these seniors along with the other students moving on to the state competition will have success and will represent the team well.
“We’ve got a good group of people going in this year,” Hagemann said. “We enjoy what we’re doing and we are dedicated to what we are doing, so if nothing else I think that we will see good results.”