Speaking out at Sectionals

Updated: Apr 30

by TOMMY PUGH and ERIN CLARK - Students in Speech describe the ins and outs of their individual events


WESTFIELD, Ind. (Feb. 29, 2020) - WHS Speech and Debate members gathered in various classrooms. After having practiced for days, competitors gave their all before the judges, resulting in a placement of third overall at Sectionals. However, each independent event mattered, and each student had their own reason for participating in that event.


“I did [extemporaneous speech] in eighth grade originally, because I like politics, and I like current events,” AnnaLee Schade (10) said. “I read about the extemporaneous event, and it felt perfect for me. I kind of took a break freshman year with adjusting to high school; it was kind of a lot. But then I got back into it sophomore year and this year was more about just getting my feet wet getting back into it before I really start to throw myself into it my junior and senior year.”

AnnaLee Schade (10) listens attentively to fellow Speech teammates (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

Like Schade, Brianna Kishel (12) wanted to make an argument. However, Kishel was more interested in rhetoric than politics.


“I've been in Speech and Debate since junior year, and I did Impromptu Speaking,” Kishel said. “I joined it because I've been a performer pretty much my entire life, and I am going into linguistics. I wanted to understand how people use rhetoric to make a convincing argument and to make the listeners feel something.”


Isaac Schantz (9) also joined Speech and Debate in the hopes of improving his oral speaking skills. In his case, he joined to improve for theatre.


“I've been in Speech and Debate for two years, but I did one year at the middle school, and this is my second year,” Schantz said. “I competed in POI: Program of Oral Interpretation. It's an event where you prepare a program that is multimedia and you can use skits and drama and speeches and prose and all kinds of things that all go under one theme.”


Schantz tended to stick to what was prepared beforehand. Kishel, on the other hand, often found herself in the events requiring improvisation.


“Having a method and being able to think on your feet, it really is up to just what props you get,” Kishel said. “Once I got pecan pie and I did not know how to handle that and speak for five minutes about pecan pie. And I didn't know how to make a fringe excuse for talking about something else.”


Between all the surprising and unique topics, it is easy to get interested in Speech and Debate. Fortunately, joining is not a difficult process.


“Definitely come to the call meetings; talk to people that are in Speech and Debate and have it figured out because there's probably an event for you,” Schade said. “There's an event for everyone. It's very fun. You make really good connections, and also you just gain a lot of really good public speaking skills. You can also gain a ton of scholarship money depending on how many points you get for the National Speech and Debate Association, so that's a bonus. The more you do, the more benefits you get when you go into college; being affiliated with NSDA looks very, very good to colleges. Time is not really an issue for most people.”

Elaine Quirke (11) converses with Isaac Schantz (9) (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

Even with the incentives Schade mentioned, students still naturally enjoyed their events, especially with the various personalities present.


“The best part of the event is probably just the people,” Schantz said. “The teams are really awesome.”


Schantz was not the only one to find such value from people. Schade had a similar experience.


“I mean, it's a cliche to say the people, but the people are super cool,” Schade said. “You get to make a lot of connections. We're all doing what we enjoy. So even though we're up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, we're all together, and we're all acting or talking about politics. We're doing what we enjoy. It's just a really fun environment. Also, [in] Speech and Debate, even though there are other competitors from other schools, you make friends with those people too. Everybody connects with one another and there's no grudges with whoever gets first.”


Kishel echoed the same idea.


“The best part of the whole event is that Speech kids are actually really, I wouldn't say extroverted, but they're not shy when it comes to talking to each other, especially with events like impromptu where you have to wait outside your room,” Kishel said. “You get to know your competitors really well and you kind of root for them to succeed, so there's a whole lot of camaraderie in Speech and Debate.”


Update: Due to COVID-19, the State Speech tournament was canceled, and the National Tournament was moved online.

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