The Times West Virginian

February 11, 2008

Good memories, impact in lives, and some laughs. What is it?

It’s Speech Team

By Robbie Netz

FAIRMONT — Then the words “high school” are brought up, one automatically thinks of sports, band, choir, honoraries and clubs.

The clubs could be something well-known, such as National Honor Society, but in high school was there ever such a thing called “Speech Team”? It’s one of the newest clubs in which students may join and recite poems, plays and much more.

“My Spanish III teacher, Mr. Garcia, told me about speech team. I went to a practice after school one day and I just fell in love,” said Emily DeWitt, junior at East Fairmont High School.

Speech is when students can perform different types of speeches out loud in a room with other competitors and a judge. There are many types of categories: dramatic duo, oratory, prose, poetry and many more.

The rules are rather simple: When a category is called, one enters the room with five to 10 other students and one judge. The judge calls everyone’s numbers and everyone performs. That is the end of round one. In a tournament there are four different rounds.

“I love going to the competitions and watching the other schools perform and to see how my team does. Duo and Impromptu are extremely fun to watch,” said Amanda Delligatti, a junior at East Fairmont High School.

There are many categories of speech: duo, after-dinner speaking, prose, impromptu, declamation and many more. Duo involves two people and the actors are not allowed to make physical or eye contact, or use props. After-dinner speaking is a public address event similar to Speech to Entertain meant to take an important topic and make greater sense of it through the use of humor. It can take the form of any of the accepted public speaking structures but often takes the form of an Informative or Persuasive speech. This event covers a variety of topics, but the use of humor is central to the execution of the event.

Prose, also known as poetry, is when competitors interpret the literature via facial expressions and eye contact, memorization is generally helpful. Impromptu is when competitors are given a topic, usually a single word or phrase, that may be a person, thing, well-known saying, current event, or an object. They then compose a speech based on the prompt. Impromptu speeches generally run about four (the minimum required speaking time at most tournaments) to six minutes in length, with anywhere from 15 seconds to three minutes of “prep time.”

Last, but not least declamation. It is a speech adapted from magazine articles, commencement addresses, or any number of other adaptations of non-original material, including forensics speeches from previous years. Declamations tend to be persuasive, and competition is similar to Original Oratory. As in Oratory, the length of a speech is generally about eight minutes.

“ There are tons of good memories! My best memory was when a student cried with the emotion of their duo piece at practice one day. Never before had I been so impressed with the influence Speech Team has in our lives,” Hannah Sweetser said. She is a junior at East Fairmont High School and does speech because it runs in her family, starting with her second-eldest brother. Hannah has been in poetry, prose, impromptu, and after-dinner speaking.

Speech team can affect many things on people lives and it can give you practice for public speaking. East Fairmont High School is proud to have such a splendid organization that challenges students to perform.

“I most definitely recommend speech to people who are looking for a good time, without the stress of having to be perfect and just wanting a good way to express themselves,” Jeremy Ervin, senior at East Fairmont High School, said.