Speech Team Flourishes at Newton South High School Meet

Anna Van der Linden

The Speech Team celebrates a successful performance at Newton-South High School where four students received a bid for states.
The Speech Team celebrates a successful performance at Newton-South High School where four students received a bid for states.

In the three years of the Speech Team’s existence, no individual has ever qualified for the State Competition.  Since they started with four members back in 2011, the team has tripled in size to over 12 members this year.  However, they have still yet to qualify any individuals for the State Tournament.  This year, however, may be different.

In order to qualify for States, individuals — who have competed in a minimum of three separate competitions — must have an average finish within the top fifteen places.  After a strong showing at the Holly Speech Festival at Natick High School on December 14, the Walpole High Speech Team competed at Newton-South High School on Saturday, January 8, their second major meet this year.  Because of their strong places at the Newton-South, Walpole may be sending their first individual to the State Tournament.

Before a tournament, students receive information about the categories they will be competing in. Categories include Group Discussion, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, or Impromptu. In Group Discussion, for example, students form their own points and think of an opening and concluding statement for the discussion. “It’s like a socratic seminar, and it is the intro to the more advanced debating category,” said Loflin. Twelve competitors make it to the semi-finals, and six continue on to the finals.

Sophomore Grace Hoegler, one of the the new members who competed at her first tournament in the event of Group Discussion, had one of the strongest performances at the meet.

“I stay calm during my debates by just speaking my mind and opinion, and once you get past the anxiety, it just comes naturally,” Hoegler said. She made it to the semi-final round and received a medal for placing 8th out of 55. If she earns similar scores at the next two tournaments, she could head to the State Finals later this Spring.

While no members came home with a trophy, the overall mood remained upbeat.

New members including sophomore Tess Lancaster enjoyed the event. She said, “My favorite thing was the fact that it was a completely different experience than anything else that Walpole High has to offer. It was nice to meet people from all over Massachusetts and discuss things we were interested in.”

The team has gained many new additions, mostly thanks to the efforts of the current members. “The students that are involved seem really enthusiastic, they have the right attitude, and they have actually recruited new members, which is great to see,” said the advisor, Ms. Emily Loflin.

In the acting side of the tournament, students can compete in categories such as Play Reading, Radio Broadcast, or Dramatic Interpretation. Walpole students who participated in the acting categories include sophomore Matt Moriarty, sophomore Kianna Kaizer, and junior Catriona Garry.

Additional members who received a bid for the state tournament were sophomore Cornelius Goodrich, who placed 31st out of 55 in Group Discussion, junior Sam Corcoran, who placed 17th out of 55 in Group Discussion, and junior Catriona Garry, who placed 25th out of 55 in Prose Reading.

“My personal goal for the team is to hopefully make the state tournament, and I feel pretty confident that that’s going to happen,” said Ms. Loflin. With their new members and plenty of enthusiasm, the Speech Team hopes that 2014 is the year where they as a team — or at least certain individuals — qualify for the State Tournament.