Making their voices heard

ALGONA – The gymnasium at Bishop Garrigan High School was filled with the sounds of poetry readings, stories, musical theater selections and even informative speeches as a few hundred students rehearsed their performances at the district individual speech contest Saturday morning.

Raff Naughton, a first year member of the speech team at St. Edmond High School, paced the gym as he recited his public address, “Seventieth Birthday,” a speech originally presented by Mark Twain.

Since he was able to have printed notes for part of his speech, Naughton wasn’t nearly as nervous about performing for a judge in public address as he was for improvisation, in which he only had a few minutes to draw two characters and a situation and prepare a performance.

“Improv is pretty challenging,” he said. “I was supposed to be a tow truck driver, a fire alarm tester and the situation was getting a sunburn.”

His performance earned a “II” rating, which he was satisfied with, just for the experience.

“It’s a good experience,” he said.

Ashley Salter, of St. Edmond, participated in speech for a second year this year, bringing two prepared pieces to perform before the judges.

As she recited her poetry piece, she added a few notes to her pages to help deliver the best possible performance.

“I’ll be reading Junie B. Jones for prose, and also doing poetry,” said Salter. “Prose is more like telling a story, where poetry is more advanced.”

Salter set a goal of advancing to the state contest with at least one of her selections this year.

“I’d at least like to get a ‘I’ and make it to state,” she said. “Getting to state would be nice, I got a ‘II’ last year and didn’t quite make it.”

Lexi Rydstrom with the Sioux Central speech team practiced her prose selection, “Grounded” while her mother, Tina Rydstrom helped time and critique her. Tina Rydstrom said she enjoys watching the speech performances since she was once a speech participant herself.

‘They’re fun to listen to,” she said. “I did speech when I was in high school so this is something to come back to.”

Theresa Folan,with the Spirit Lake High School team, practiced with her computer and speakers as she rehearsed a solo musical theater selection.

“I’m performing ‘The Wizard and I’ from the musical ‘Wicked,'” she said. “I’ve been doing musical theater for three years, and I just love the fact that there are so many options in that category. It’s fun to make a selection, practice it and perform it to the way you think it should be performed.”

Cayla Cunningham, with Spencer High School, rehearsed her prose selection “Rapunzel,” with a little help from fellow speakers Piper Swanson and Aaron Noah.

“I’ve love the family part of being in speech,” Cunningham said. “You become like a family, you’re together all of the time.”