Students compete at speech meetAs the hallways of Dickinson State University’s May Hall bustled with pacing students, gesticulating and practicing words, every five minutes or so one would enter a designated room for his or her chance to show their stuff Saturday.
As the hallways of Dickinson State University’s May Hall bustled with pacing students, gesticulating and practicing words, every five minutes or so one would enter a designated room for his or her chance to show their stuff Saturday.
From seventh-graders to high school seniors, The Blue Hawk Speech Tournament, sponsored by the DSU Alumni Association, hosted competitive speech categories including impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking, radio broadcasting, persuasion and storytelling.
Buses lined the loop in front of May Hall as the tournament yielded 16 teams from Mandan to Beach.
For some, it wasn’t their first go-around.
Mott-Regent High School senior Aaron Friedt has been competing in speech tournaments since seventh grade.
Friedt said while he was a tad nervous for his storytelling speech, in which he colorfully described an old Western tale, he wasn’t as nervous as he used to be when he first started his speech career.
Some speech participants also compete in athletics.
Williston High School senior Cody Bakken started his speech venture last year and has only been able to participate part-time due to his wrestling obligations.
Bakken’s decision to join the speech team had a bit to do with his personality.
“I talk a lot and I’d always meant to join it like freshman and sophomore year because I’d been told I’d be good at it,” Bakken said.
Participation in speech competitions could be on the rise as the New Salem-Almont team boasted 20 students.
“It’s the highest number we’ve had in the five years that I’ve been there,” said Tammy Gilstad, a speech coach for New Salem-Almont as well as a DSU alumna.
More than a chance to spend time with their peers, Gilstad said speech competitions provide students with lifelong skills.
“They learn to stretch themselves, you know, and I think it just contributes to their overall well-being as becoming a citizen,” Gilstad said. “It challenges them in ways that classroom work doesn’t. It’s a different kind of challenge. This gives them an avenue to express themselves.”
Bakken is aspiring to become a medical doctor and feels the skills he has acquired through speech team participation may help him.
“It definitely makes you more comfortable speaking in front of people ... like an interview or anything, because you have someone who’s specifically listening to you, grading what you’re doing with your voice and you’re set to do a specific task,” Bakken said.
Cara Hurdelbrink, a sophomore from Mandan, is in her first year of speech team and is relishing the experience.
“It’s so much easier for me to get up in front of people and speak now,” Hurdelbrink said. It sounds really overrated because its speech, but it is like you’re not as self-conscious in front of people anymore after you do that.”
Gilstad said her team practices before and after school.
“We work around the kid’s schedule, you know, when they can be there,” Gilstad said.
Judges volunteer their time to help out with the competition.
Julie Hudson-Schenfisch, a judge from Washburn, said all judges must take a test and become certified by the North Dakota High School Activities Association.
Tournament results were not sent by press time.