The clicking of small black binders and the rustling of turning pages echoed through the halls of Scottsbluff High School on Saturday, Jan. 11. Speech students from schools around the Panhandle ran through one final rehearsal before the Scottsbluff speech meet began at 8 a.m.
Students competing in Oral Interpretation of Drama (OID) stood outside the band and choir rooms completing their vocal warm ups and went through their lines and gestures before performing in front of the judges.
Kimball’s OID group of Melyssa Casimiro, Madison Ebeling, Maria Burris, Angel Helms and Emily Bussanich went first. In the Jaws parody Gums, they told the story of residents and tourists on Shark Island who were having their skin removed off their legs while swimming in the ocean. Several eye-witness accounts describe an animal that gummed people’s skin off.
After several instances, Captain Ishmael decides to sacrifice himself as bait as Gum chases the boat towing him. Suddenly, the characters realize they are headed for the shore where the Fourth of July celebration is taking place. After Gum reaches the shoreline, a boy places a sparkler into its mouth, causing the fish to explode. While the towns people and tourist celebrate Gum’s death, they soon realize Gum was a female that laid fish eggs along the shore, so Gum’s horrified actions would continue.
As the teams watched the other groups deliver their speeches, Alicia Sanchez of Mitchell felt nervous.
“I was nervous, but excited after seeing all the returning competition from last year,” Sanchez said. “But, once we started, I felt better.”
The Mitchell OID group of Sanchez, Sabrina Vizcaino, Samantha Vizcaino, Anyssa Lopez and Keanna Turnbull, told the story of “How to mess up pretty much anything.” Whether it be acting like a horse during an interview where every response is the word ‘nay’ or wearing an empty paint bucket over your head that causes missed quality time with friends, the performers frantically explore more outlandish ways to mess up in hopes of gaining their principal’s approval before being kicked off the stage.
Following their performance, the group was proud of their first performance, but said they can improve.
“I learned we can do some changes to our lines and other parts of the speech to make it better,” Samantha Vizcaino said.
The nerves were high for several speakers throughout Saturday’s meet, but they soon realized they just had to go for it and have fun.
“To get the jitters out is nice,” said Maddison Sandstrom of Chadron. “Before the meet started we practiced what we weren’t sure of.” Madelyn Pelton added, “You just have to tear off the band-aid at some point. It was good for our first run.”
Judge Jaime Batterman enjoyed watching the students deliver their speeches as she judged OID, poetry and serious.
“I enjoy seeing all the hard work they have put into it,” Batterman said. “As a former speech coach, I hope it was a positive day for them and they get the tools to start to polish their speeches and gain more confidence.”
While almost every speech allows the students to prepare their materials ahead of a meet, students who competed in extemporaneous speaking received a prompt roughly 40 minutes before they delivered the speech for a judge. Gering’s Hannah Boyd competed in extemporaneous speaking for her first time Saturday.
“The hardest part is organization,” Boyd said. “I can’t have a card with all of my notes on it.”
Her strategies was to write her speech out on paper in 30 minutes before reading through it to begin memorizing the main points and transitions. Then she transferred the facts, sources and main points onto her notecard.
“I learned that making a speech is hard and nerve-racking, but it was fun,” she said.
In her entertainment speech, Scottsbluff’s Anna Harveson shared advice for surviving a family gathering. By learning your family tree, dealing with younger cousins following you everywhere and how to answer difficult questions about what your going to do with your life, Harveson concluded with “we love our families, but sometimes they get under our skins. However, between all the fights and family drama, families always have each other’s backs through thick and thin.”
Following her speech, Harveson said her nerves were better.
“I was freaking out last night, but now I feel a lot better since it went well,” she said.
Harveson said the first meet is a challenge as the nerves set in as they present pieces for the first time. After delivering her entertainment speech, she said, “My speech is funnier than I though it was.”
Rick Caudillo, judge and Banner County speech coach, was impressed by the students.
“I was impressed with the high level of professionalism and politeness from all the students,” he said. “I like how serious they take speech without becoming overwhelmed. I think it is very important to round out education.”
The next speech meet will be on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Gering High School.