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Sandburg Speech team victorious with early tournaments of the season

On Saturday, November 4th, Carl Sandburg’s Speech Team had a successful competition at Joliet West High School. The team placed 5th overall, and Cayla Evans and Naomi Turk placed first in their events.

Photo courtesy of @cshsspeech on Instagram

Junior Cayla Evans said, “I am very happy with my performance this past weekend! I placed 5th in Dramatic Interpretation, and I champed [placed 1st] in Humorous Interpretation!”

Senior Naomi Turk stated,” I was the tournament champion for Prose, and the tournament champion for SOS [Special Occasion Speaking]! I’m the first person in four years to win the same tournament for both of their events.”

The Speech season is full of practice and competitions. Mr. Epperson, the staff sponsor for Speech, states, “During the season – Basically Halloween to Valentine’s Day – we compete every Saturday (except for Thanksgiving and winter break). Some of the tourneys are themed. For instance, the one we host in December is called “The Flavortown Forensics Feast,” and it is all food and Guy Fieri themed. The one we go to in Oak Lawn is Christmas themed.”

Mr. Epperson organizes student practice and helps them prepare for competitions. He says, “In the morning at each tourney, we get in a circle and do vocal warm ups to get ready for competition. After the tourney, on the bus, I’ll go over the results and talk about all the good things that happened. The following Monday, we do another recap for those who may not have been there.”

Speech has a lot of different sub-categories when it comes to competition. There are two main categories, which are Interpretation (known by Speech team members as Interp) and Public Address.

Mr. Epperson explains, “Public address is what people generally have in mind when you think of a speech,” much like a TED talk or a college commencement address. Under the umbrella of Public Address, there are specific types of events, like Original Oration, Oratorical Declamation, Informative Speaking, and Special Occasion Speaking.

Interp events are much more dramatic and involve something  a bit more like acting. Examples of Interp activities would be a monologue or a one-person show where the speaker is performing as multiple characters.

All Speech team members have their own unique strengths, with skills and passions for different events. Evans, who is starting her second year on the Speech team, states,“ My favorite and strongest event is Humorous Interpretation.”

Turk, however, who is starting her 4th year on the Speech Team, says, “My strongest event is currently Prose, which is an 8-minute excerpt of a (typically) dramatic story.”

A first-year Speech team member, freshman Lara Alkhatib, who is starting her first year on the Speech Team, states, “My favorite and strongest so far is Poetry.”

Freshman Caitlin Reiter, also beginning her first year on the Speech team, said, “ My favorite category is probably DDA [Dramatic Duet Acting] because I get to compete with Lily DeFrates. However, I think my strongest category is DI [Dramatic Interpretation].”

Lily DeFrates, Caitlin Reiter, Cayla Evans, and Allison Belair pose with their awards from the November 4 competition – Photo courtesy of @ on Instagram

The Speech team bonds as a community, and has a great time engaging with other students that share the same passions. Turk reflects upon a favorite memory, saying, “One of my fondest memories is when I “broke” [made it to finals] for the first time at the Thornton Thanksgiving Tournament last year! Another one of my favorite memories is the Downers Grove South Varsity Tournament last year. I remember being in the cafeteria playing Uno with the team and hearing shouts from across the room. One of the girls from another team opened her acceptance letter at the tournament (risky!) and found out that she got into USC! Everyone in the room cheered for her after learning what she accomplished.”

Evans reported that “My favorite memories are either having fun with my friends while we are waiting for the award ceremonies, or cheering on my teammates during awards.”

Speech can become a full-time commitment if you stick with it, and you can very successfully grow your skills if you put in the work. All four students were asked what goals they have planned for their future selves when it comes to Speech.

Alkhatib notes that “ She goal I have for my future self is getting more confident in speaking publicly.”

Evans wants to grow as a team and as an individual. She says, “Some future goals I have are to qualify for a major competition such as State or Nationals, and just to have fun this season!”

Reiter echoes wanting to refine her skills and have fun while building relationships. “ A goal I have for my future self is to continue to place at competitions and grow closer with the team.”

Turks describes a goal that resonates with her family. “Speech quite literally runs in my blood — all my relatives that did it went to the IHSA state finals, so it’s been my goal to keep that legacy alive (fingers crossed for state!). Both of my parents did Toastmasters. My dad actually won “Best Speaker” for a speech about my birth. So I plan to join Toastmasters in college. If that’s successful, I would love to have a side gig where I help companies polish their presentational skills.”

The Speech team is off to a great start with their season again, and it seems like a fun one. The team has a great bond with each other, and they work really well together.

Turk shares this sentiment. “Even though speech is competitive, I really enjoy connecting with my audience/competitors through performing my pieces. It shows that we’re all united through our love of telling stories that have the power to move people.”

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