The district meet for speech league was at Conemaugh Township High School Jan. 29.
The following students received first place: senior Ethan Katcher (extemporaneous), junior Nattie Daversa, junior Geneva Flarend (public forum debate) and sophomore Anthony Pater (dramatic interpretation).
The following students received second place: junior Zoe Wilson (commentary), senior Brandon Eichenlaub (dramatic interpretation), senior Bryce Dunio (extemporaneous), senior McKenna Dugan and senior Jake Wilt (duo).
This competition was something new for senior McKenna Dugan.
“This is my first competition that I attended while holding my position as Secretary of speech league. I helped some other AAHS competitors practice and gave them advice for their pieces, so instead of worrying about just my piece I was thinking about everyone else’s too. It was very stressful, I can’t imagine how hard it would be as the coach to have to sit there and wait for results the whole time,” Dugan said.
Wilt participated in the duo category alongside Dugan.
“I normally act on stage in school and the community. Duo interpretation is similar to acting except for three specific rules: you can’t look directly at each other, you can’t touch each other, and you can’t touch the ground. It’s definitely different and a challenge for me at times to remember the rules and differentiate between drama and speech league,” Wilt said.
Junior Geneva Flarend participates in the public forum debate category.
“A huge component in public forum debate is knowing your sources and being able to produce them quickly, and both of us could mention the source of our statistics more frequently,” Flarend said.
Speech league members are hoping they can improve their performances this year at districts.
“Last year, my partner [junior] Nattie Daversa, and I placed second. This year, we have gotten first place at every meet we’ve been to, so we think we can win the category this year,” Flarend said.
“From last year, we really wanted to improve our transitions between scenes. We spent a lot of time focusing on that specific area that kept dragging us down. I think second shows how much we improved in that area. If anything, Kenna and I could both improve on not overacting. Sometimes we get excited and perform for an entire theatre full of people and forget we are performing in a small classroom full of 20 people, tops,” Wilt said.
“With more practice we’ll be able to smooth out any moves that aren’t perfect and be more comfortable with the piece so that nerves won’t cause us to stumble over any of our lines,” Dugan said.
The upcoming district meet is unlike any other competition.
“Since this next competition is the district meet, the people we’ll be competing against will be from nearly every team in the district. It’s a massive amount of people. Also, the individuals or pairs who take first or second place at this meet advance on to the state championship, so the pressure is on to perform,” Flarend said.
The district competition is Feb. 9 at Westmont Hilltop High School.
“There will be 12 high schools competing. We will be taking 28 competitors in 12 different categories. Depending on the outcome, the regional competition is March 5th & 7th at Saint Francis University,” adviser Michael Steininger said.
Steininger and members of speech league continually encourage students to join speech league.
“I would encourage everyone to consider joining speech league. There’s genuinely a category for everyone and the people you’ll meet and work with are some of the most down to earth people you’ll know in high school. It really prepares you and gives you confidence to do things like job or college interviews and class speeches,” Dugan said.