Speech team competes at Districts

Katherine Mayhew/Staff Writer

Juniors Josh Ochoa and Ann Fienup hone their improv skills in preparation for the district competition in La Porte City, which was held on Saturday, Jan. 21. (Katherine Mayhew photo)

Students involved with the CFHS speech team competed in the District Large Group Speech Contest at Union-LaPorte City High School last Saturday. Ten groups from the CFHS speech team, including the one-act play, achieved the highest possible Division I rating, allowing them to advance to the state competition. Five other groups earned Division II ratings.

According to the original schedule, the team was supposed to leave Cedar Falls High School at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. However, due to snow removal and weather conditions, the contest was delayed two hours and the bus to Union City left around 9 a.m. Speech team coach Karen Franke was grateful for this turn of events. “I’m really happy we had a delay because my actors got to sleep longer so they’d be more fresh [for their performance]. So the delay works for me,” she said.

The speech team also encountered difficulties on the bus ride, causing them to switch buses. On the initial bus, a high-pitched alarm sounded periodically, sometimes repeating after a few minutes or a few seconds. This alarm most likely stemmed from an engine malfunction due to the cold.

Despite getting off to a rocky start, the speech team arrived at Union-LaPorte City High School on time to give incredible performances. Speech team coach Nick Chizel described speech team as “a creative explosion of awesomeness.”

Team participants were equally satisfied with how district contest went this year. Senior Michaela Oehler said, “It went amazing. Absolutely, positively amazing.”

Also pleased with this year’s competition, junior Jillian Ross said, “Today [Saturday] was wonderful. It went really well. Everything I saw was excellent.”

The speech team began preparing for competition in October, practicing pieces from different branches of acting such as improvisation, film, ensemble and one-act plays. This year, the speech team had a much larger number of freshman participants than in years past. Coaches were able to split speech team members into groups composed entirely of freshmen, something that could not be done last year due to much smaller freshmen numbers.

“I think we have a great freshmen class. It’s going to be a blast going to State, and All-State because we’re cocky,” sophomore Noah Miller said.

Overall, freshmen enjoyed speech team and plan to compete again their sophomore year. Freshman Becky Ochoa said, “I love speech team. Yes, I’m going to do it next year.”

The groups which earned an overall Division I rating included the one act play, choral reading, short film, improv groups Bruss, Feinup and Bruess and ensembles “The 15-Minute Hamlet,” “DMV Tyrant,” “Mr.Fritz” and “Sure Thing.” These groups will compete again in the Large Group State Competition at Dubuque Senior High School on Feb. 4.

Speech team coach Rebecca Kauten said, “I think folks who’ve never done speech had a wonderful time, and I am very proud of how CFHS is presented as a team at contest.”

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