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Johnson: DHS, Trinity speech teams combine

By Reed Johnson, Our Town Contributor

The Dickinson High speech team was just getting on its feet in the 2012-13 school year.

There were hiccups along the way, but the team still had a good year.

Junior Kaleb Dschaak finished ninth at the state speech meet in impromptu speaking and junior Reed Johnson competed at the WDA meet.

Hopes are high for the team as it enters the 2013-14 season.

Dickinson has a new coach, Janel Schiff, who plans to usher in a wealth of changes for the benefit of the team.

This year, DHS students will co-op with the Dickinson Trinity High School speech team and the team will compete at the Class A level.

DHS activities director Guy Fridley said the reason for the change was to get more students interested in the program with a stable coach.

Many students are optimistic about the transition including Dschaak, Dickinson High’s co-captain. He competed in impromptu speaking and radio broadcasting last season.

This year, he wishes also to compete in informative and persuasive events.

“I think the transition to Trinity will be a unique and new experience for everyone in speech and will require a positive attitude to make the fruitful transition to Trinity,” Dschaak said.

Others, including Fridley, are optimistic about speech this year. Fridley would like to see more attendance, more meets and more competition. He would also like to attend a speech meet in the future. He said he loves seeing students compete in different realms, especially in an academic setting.

“In my position, I am there to support every possible activity that the school offers,” Fridley said.

Schiff is an experienced veteran of the program, Janel Schiff. This will be her 21st year coaching Trinity, and her 25th year teaching.

Speech in southwest North Dakota is very challenging, and Schiff hopes to have a prosperous season despite the difficulties in this part of the state. She has many goals for the season, including informing students of opportunities and having students be familiar with all 14 events in speech.

“I want to provide an understanding of the importance of communication skills, help students, parents and teachers understand the variety of events in speech, since there are 14 events, and provide an opportunity for students to discover their strengths and build upon their weaknesses,” Schiff said.

She is looking forward to coaching the new eam and is also excited about Trinity moving up to Class A speech.

Schiff said she would like to make sure students know there is an event for everyone.

Being a member of the speech team doesn’t necessarily mean having to perform all prepared speeches. With 14 events, students can find ones they enjoy.

Trinity students are excited about the merger, including senior Sarah Strube.

She is excited to compete in Class A speech, and also looked forward to the state meet.

She would like to qualify for state in at least one event and wants the team to increase membership.

The speech program at Trinity has had, on average, 25 to 35 students every year.

With Dickinson High, Trinity’s membership expects to increase significantly.

Schiff is very pleased to have a large team and is also very grateful to have assistant coach Yvonne Seifert to help out with the large amount of students.

Seifert, a DHS English instructor, has been the assistant coach of the school’s speech team for 12 years and has 30 years of speech experience.

Last year, Seifert served as the school’s interim head speech coach for the last several months of the season.

While Seifert was coach, she judged speeches and also provided transportation to and from meets. Without her, there wouldn’t have been a speech program at DHS.

Seifert thinks the transition will be good for both DHS and Trinity, and is glad to have an experienced coach in the midst.

Seifert will be in charge of assisting with practices and helping run the speech program smoothly.

Schiff will also be assisted by Josh Kralicek, an alumnus of Trinity High School and the Titans’ speech program.

He competed in 12 of the 14 events in high school and considered placing sixth at the state meet in persuasive speech the highlight of his career.

Kralicek told students to expect to encounter a “little bit of everything” and was pleased with the transition. He remains very optimistic about the season.

Schiff strongly encouraged every Dickinson and Trinity student, freshman through senior, to attend the speech program.

She said it will be a life-changing experience and will provide many opportunities for the future.