Forming connections, influencing decisions and motivating change are all benefits of developing a skill set in speech. Without communication skills, the ability to progress in the working world and in life, itself, would be difficult. Public speaking is one of the most important and most dreaded forms of communication and on Thursday, April 8, students from Trinity High took first place as a team in the North Dakota Speech and Debate Association regional competition at Richardton-Taylor High School in Richardton.

Every year, students from grades 7-12 compete in an assortment of events related to speaking.

English and Public Speaking teacher at Trinity, Janelle Schiff said five of her students will be moving on to state in Mandan. Those students will be competing in the following events: storytelling, radio broadcasting, impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking and more.

Schiff said each event fits into one of three categories, oral interpretive, public speaking events and what Schiff called a prep event which is where students prepare and present various materials within the same day. Schiff said storytelling falls into that last category.

“Storytelling is an event where you get a story, you have a half hour to look it over and then you tell the story in your own words, including characterization and movement,” Schiff said.

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Schiff said Trinity’s storytellers have qualified for state in past years. Senior Sunshine Diem, had been a state champion two years ago in the storyteller. As mentioned in a previous article, Diem will be using those storytelling skills with her role as Eliza Doolittle in Trinity’s reprisal of My Fair Lady.

Radio broadcasting, Schiff said, is where students have to sort through and present news snippets in a three minute timeframe.

Schiff also had students participating in the extemporaneous speaking events which involve responding to various questions related to national and international issues.

“They’ve been asked questions about the European Union, they’ve been asked questions about COVID and hybrid learning...a wide spectrum of issues,” Schiff said.

For Schiff, these competitions are not only an interesting activity for students but a chance to acquire skill necessary for success both inside and outside of the classroom. Students who compete, she said, are ahead of their peers insofar due to the time they spend effectively reading and analyzing literature, conducting research as well as writing and presenting that information to wider audiences.

“They (students) develop strong communication skills and confidence that serves them well both in and outside the classroom,” Schiff said.

Showing interest and showing up are not enough to be an effective NDSA competitor, though for Schiff, it is the beginning. Students who wish to become competitive speakers may get in touch with Mrs. Janelle Schiff for more information.