Beatrice High School students have found a creative and sometimes humorous way to practice public speaking by being members of the school’s speech team.
This year’s speeches include a play within a play and geocaching with an elderly hippie, which 12 students will get to perform in roughly 10 contests with area schools.
Ed Ankrom, a speech coach at BHS, said a lot of freshman have joined the team this year.
“So it’s just getting them introduced to speech, going to the meets, seeing what the expectations are at practice and creating scripts, writing and editing,” Ankrom said. “Just a whole process until you have your speech or your program to the point where you want it to be.”
Ankrom said the experience teaches kids public speaking, organizational and editing skills, and to consider constructive criticisms.
According to the Nebraska School Activities Association website, each type of speech has different factors to be judged on, with most speeches being judged on presentation, delivery and overall effectiveness.
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Ankrom said judgments can be subjective due to the judge’s stance on the subject, which can affect how the student presents their speech.
Students can also take speech as a fall class to meet their oral communications graduation requirement.
Senior Zander Wells said he joined the speech team as a freshman after it was suggested by Mr. Jacob Smiley during his oral communications class.
“It’s definitely opened me up a lot more,” Wells said. “I used to have a really bad stutter, and now I still kind of do, but this has really helped.”
Freshmen Jaden Guernsey and Emmy Hoefer both said they joined after seeing their siblings compete.
BHS hosted a speech contest on Feb. 1. Ankrom said every student that competed received a medal due to the smaller meet size. He said the contests at schools in Lincoln have roughly 40 schools and 650 students competing.
Ankrom explained students are allowed but not required to compete at every contest, as many participate in other activities or have jobs.
The team’s next meet is Saturday, Feb. 15 at Auburn High School.