Four OHS speech students advance to the state meet


Logan McGaheran

Fardouza Farah, Jackson Hemann, Julia Christenson and Megan Copeland pose for a picture at the state speech send off.

Olivia Shaw, Writer

The OHS Speech Team competed in section finals on April 15, 2021. Owatonna had four students that advanced to the state speech competition in four different categories; junior Julia Christenson (Humor), junior Jackson Hemann (Drama), senior Megan Copeland (Extemp Reading) and junior Fardouza Farah (Discussion). The Speech Team advisers are Ms. Marcia Anderson and Ms.Betsy Cole, both are teachers at OHS. At state, each contestant could speak up to four times. The way they perform in the three preliminary rounds will determine if they advance to the finals or not. Speech consists of many different categories to compete in. 

Hemann competed in the Drama category and will be advancing to the state competition in that category. Hemann is going to state for the second year. Two years ago he competed at state in the duo category with former OHS student, Carolyn Stauffer. He started speech in 7th grade and has fallen in love with the program ever since. From the beginning of the season to now, he has made many changes in multiple ways. Hemann says, “I have changed my script by making cuts, revising it, and changing my intro. I have also changed all of my movements. These changes have helped me advance to state.” By revising his work he was able to make the extra push to make it to state. This year Hemann is competing in the drama category. Within the drama category, the contestant picks a script from a play and performs it. This is typically a sad piece, the script is about ten minutes long and he has to memorize it. His goal for next year is to have a good season and a fun time. 

For Christenson, her top performing category is Humor. Christenson has been on the speech team for four years now, two of which she has been a captain. She says, “Speech is such a fun time and it helps you with public speaking as well as other skills you can apply to life.” Being able to have fun while acquiring new skills to better you in the future, is a key aspect of the speech team. In a humorous interpretation category, each performer gets a ten minute performance that they have to memorize throughout the season, this can be a cut from a book, a script from a play or a monologue. The contestant is then judged on how well he or she performs and acts out their speech. For next season she hopes to make it to state again and improve her performance even more. Over the course of the season, Christenson says, “I have improved a lot over this season, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends and coaches.”  

One category in speech is a reading category called, Extemporaneous Reading. Competitors must randomly draw a section from a story and read it with feelings, characteristics and emotion. The participants are given a book at the beginning of the season, they can then pre-read and get to know the book. Within the book they can pick apart between 30 and 40 passages. They then draw the three passages they are most comfortable with. Before the performance, the participants get 30 minutes to write an introduction and practice their speech. Copeland says, “Each performer is then judged on their character voice and vocal inflection.” Copeland has been in speech at OHS for four years. She has made many accomplishments throughout the season. Copeland says, “At the beginning of speech I felt like I had a lot I had to work on, this season I have placed more than I ever have before.” As Copeland placed more this season, she had high hopes for advancing to state. She says, “Once I got to the finals at Big 9, I knew I had a chance.” Making state this year was in close reach for Copeland, as she made tremendous strides from the beginning of the season, to now. There are a few things that made her want to join the speech team. She saw joining the speech team as a “great way to make new friends and grow in public speaking abilities.”

Great way to make new friends and grow in public speaking abilities.”

— Megan Copeland

The OHS Speech Team is among the school organizations that teaches  life lessons, prepares students for the future, helps make a difference in the community or school and helps set goals. Farah is just one of the many students that have not only set goals but who have also made great growth throughout the season. Farah says, “I have not only grown as a discussant or a researcher, but I have also grown as a person.” Being able to have personal growth while doing something a person enjoys is an achievement in itself. Many students join speech so they can express themselves by talking instead of actions. Farah says, “I initially decided to do speech as an outlet for my passions. I decided to stay in it because of the community. I have been able to find myself and my people through speech.” Just like any other school organization, the Speech Team is another way for students to find other kids that have similar interests. This season Farah has competed in the discussion category, within this category, competitors have a continuous socratic seminar. They are usually a group of five to seven students that discuss topics ranging from income inequality to global warming. She has had a successful three seasons. As for next season, her hope is to be able to compete in person and grow with her team. 

In order to have a successful season, there are a lot of people behind the scenes that give that extra push or help for the Speech Team. Due to COVID-19, speech meets this year were all online. This made it so the students couldn’t meet with any other schools to meet new people or see friends from other teams. Ms. Anderson says, “The best thing that happened this year was that the team came together more than any other team I have ever coached.” As COVID-19 has impacted our nation, it has also made students communicate more with each other. Ms. Anderson says, “I am beyond proud of these kids for all that they have accomplished and for making this season successful and fun.” Although COVID-19 has affected all of the school events, teams and people, the OHS Speech Team made the best of the situation and came out closer than before. 

These four students are all competing online on April 23 from 3:30 to the end of the evening, with a follow-up awards ceremony at 10:45 p.m.