With high numbers, Central speech shines

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Central speech team includes Charity Koepp, Peyton Tietz, Lexi Wills, Gwen Stacy, Steven Dammann, Hannah Wroge, Jordana Schutte, Kathrina Cohrs, Natasha Christianson, Madi Kling, Tori Stacken, Jersie McCormick, Isaac Magee, Isaiah LeBlanc, Wyatt Borst and Alex Cohrs. (Submitted photo)

by Adam Gruenewald
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With increased numbers of participants, the Central speech team is off to an impressive start to their season.
Eighth-year head coach Laura Hanson said the team has done well in early competitions, recently taking fourth place among 10 schools in the small team division at a home meet on Saturday. Overall 13 teams and 200 kids took part in the meet that utilized the entire Central building.
Individually, Alyssa Bissner and Gwen Stacy got fifth place in duo, Tori Stacken got fourth place in extemporaneous reading and first place in Drama,  Madi Kling got honorable mention in humorous, Isaac Magee got honorable mention in original oratory, Alyssa Bissner got sixth place in prose, and the Team got 4th place out of 10 schools entered in the small team division.
Members of Central speech also did well at a competition at Jordan on Saturday, Feb. 11, with Tori Stacken winning third place in drama and fifth in extemporaneous reading as well as honorable mentions from Becca Padilla in drama and duo Emma Dettmann and Gwen Stacy in drama.
This year’s team is boosted by 22 members this season, doubling the 11 members from last year as they only lost two seniors in Dani Tordsen and Karl Dettmann.
“It’s going amazingly well,” said Hanson. “It’s just growing. The kids who were on the team last year all brought a friend. That was our goal from last year is have everyone bring a friend from last season and they all did.”
This year’s team features a wide mix of students including four seniors in Tori Stacken, Shelby Kutil, Madi Kling and Mikaylin Goetze as well as three juniors in Lexi Willis, Steven Dammann and Alyssa Bissener and several sophomores, freshmen, seventh- and eighth-graders.
“We’re a little young,” said Hanson. “It’s a good mix and a little on the young side but those kids can be developed into awesome members when they get older.”
Central’s team first organized in December and started practicing in January, meeting everyday and spending numerous hours outside of school to rehearse, learn and fine-tune their speeches.
“Almost all of the students have a prepared piece where it’s something they picked at the beginning of the season,” said Hanson. “We cut it for time and storyline.”
Apart from Emma Dettmann and Gwen Stacy’s duo drama piece, students either wrote their own speech or used a selected piece.
Among the efforts that Hanson highlighted are Dettmann and Stacy’s dramatic duo selection from “The End of the Movie” by Bobby Keniston. Seventh-graders Mia LeBlanc and Charity Koepp are also entered in the duo category.
“They are just a really good team,” said Hanson. “They just work super well together so having them together is a really good idea.”
Other highlights include senior Tori Stacken performing selections from a 3-part play “Bright Apple Crush” and extemporaneous selections from “A Book Thief,” Shelby Kutil in extemporaneous reading as well, in Alyssa Bissener in extemporaneous speaking with Central students taking part in 10 of the 13 overall categories.
Hanson said the upperclassmen on the team have done a great job working with students who are new to the team.
“It’s going so well,” she said. “The kids are being fantastic in terms of helping out and a lot of the older ones are fantastic role models for the younger ones. They are in here after school helping with homework, helping with speeches and practicing outside of my room. I’m supper impressed with the upperclassmen right now.”
As always, Central students have learned to appreciate the benefits of taking part in the speech team.
“I really think it’s the activity that no matter what you do in life you are going to use the skills you learn in speech,” she said. “Some day you are going to have to speak in front of someone. And it might be extemporaneous. These kids, even if it’s not their category, they have the skills and the confidence to do that.”
Next up for the speech team are Saturday competitions at Maple Lake on Feb. 25, Shakopee on March 4, St. Peter on March 11, the eight-team Minnesota River Conference meet on March 18 in LeSueur-Henderson, New Ulm on March 25, and sections at Jordan on April 8.
Hanson encourages members of the community to attend the competitions.
“It’s super fun and a lot of the kids are really entertaining,” she said. “Depending on the category some are very deep, very persuasive. It’s really something to see. These kids are really awesome and are really good at what they do.”
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.