The Success of Speech

An amazing Speech year has come to a close, with multiple All-State qualifiers, and nearly triple the number of students from the 2021-2022 year.


Kimberly Sleezer

The Individual State contest took place at North Scott High School in Eldridge, Iowa.

A record-breaking Liberty Speech season is finally coming to an end after months of trial, error, and success. The Large Group Speech team was the largest in Liberty history, with anywhere from two to ten people in each category. The Individual Speech team was also huge and just as successful as Large Group, both teams having multiple All-State entries, which is the highest point of recognition any person or group in Speech can perform at.

Large Group Speech contests take place Jan.-Feb., with ten categories students can perform in. These categories are One Act Play, Reader’s Theatre, Choral Reading, Group Improvisation, Ensemble Acting, Group Mime, Solo Mime, Radio/TV News, Musical Theatre, and Short Film.

Liberty had one Reader’s Theatre, one Choral Reading, one Group Improvisation, one Ensemble Acting, two Radio/TV News, and two Short Film groups perform at District Large Group. District is the first competition of a Speech season, which precedes State. If you receive a Division 1 rating, the best someone can get, at District, you will be qualified for State, which takes place around two weeks after District.

If you get a Division 1 rating at State, and two out of three judges nominate you, you will be qualified for All-State. All-State is the best of the best, as only 2% of all District participants make it. This same scale is also used for Individual Speech, which happens directly after Large Group All-State.

Out of Liberty’s ten groups that performed at the district competition, five made it to State at Cedar Rapids Washington High School: Reader’s Theatre, Choral Reading, one Short Film, Ensemble Acting, and Group Improvisation.  Two groups made it to All-State at the ISU campus: Reader’s Theatre and Group Improvisation.

The Reader’s Theatre group consisted of ten students; Nancy Nahra, 12, Kaylee Cavanh, 11,  Madeline Snow, 11, Asa Pelzel, 10, Addison Pirkl, 10, Madelyn Johnson, 10, Yashaswi Jaishy, 10, Avery House, 10, Naomi Thames, 9, and Callum Wu, 9. This group’s performance was called “We Interrupt This School Day…”.  The performance tells the true story of Kimberly Sleezer’s, English, experience with 9/11. Sleezer was less than 20 minutes away from the Pentagon when it was hit, teaching at W. T. Woodson High School in Washington D.C.

It tells the story of the students Sleezer had known, what had been going through their heads, and how they coped with what happened that day.

The Group Improvisation consisted of two students; Noah Gregoire, 10, and Lily Vogts, 10. Group Improvisation isn’t a printed script, like Reader’s Theatre. Vogts and Gregoire would have three minutes to draw three settings from a hat, choose one, and then would have to perform it on the spot.

Two weeks after Large Group All-State, Individual Speech starts (Feb.-March). The 14 categories consist of Acting, Poetry, Prose, Solo Musical Theatre, Improvisation Acting (solo), Radio News (solo), Original Oratory, Literary Program, Reviewing, Storytelling, Public Address, After Dinner Speaking, Expository Address, and Spontaneous Speaking.

Liberty had one Original Oratory, two Expository Addresses, three Prose, four Poetry, two Literary Programs, one Improvisation Acting, one After Dinner Speaking, one Public Address, one Storytelling and one Radio News performing at District.

Out of the original 18 entries for District at Mount Vernon High School, 15 made it to State at North Scott High School, and three made it to All-State at the UNI campus. Nancy Nahra, 12, with her poetry “Lebanon In My Heart,” Kaylee Cavanh, 11, with her After Dinner Speaking “The Groovy Goat Gals,” and Avery House, 10, with their Literary Program “Post Mortum.” 

While Speech isn’t the largest extra-curricular activity at Liberty, it is one that is extremely successful, close, and supportive of one another.

“I went from a very small private school to one of the big ICCSD public high schools, and it was a big culture shock. It was hard to find a place I could fit in[to]. Speech was a place that introduced me to a ton of new people… I found a niche that felt like my own, with people who were very enthusiastic about the same things as me. Speech has been really important to me, and I’m excited to see it provide opportunities for others down the line,” said Avery House, 10.

Joining Speech provides vital opportunities for experiences students will have later in life. There are public speaking opportunities that will come in handy if students decide to go to college after their high school career or go into a job that focuses on public speaking. 

Speech offers more than just learning skills, it allows for support, friends, tradition, growth, stories, and new avenues students have yet to try.

“Speech was my first experience getting ’out there’ after COVID. I was able to make friends with people who I never would have met… Not only that, but I was able to learn people’s stories that I never knew about, through their voice in Speech,” said Isabella Mosier, 11.

This has been an amazing and fun year for Liberty Speech, with record-breaking All-State qualifiers and performances for both Large Group Speech and Individual Speech. On Apr. 10, in the Liberty Auditorium at 7pm, come see Liberty’s All-State qualifiers perform their speeches and see everyone get their medals for such an amazing year.

“This Speech season has been, all-in-all, an incredible amount of fun! A lot of hard work has been poured into this year’s events, and it’s been exciting to see so much growth, for individuals and the team as a whole,” said Kaylee Cavanh, 11.

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