Trinity Catholic School Speech takes second in state speech competition

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The Trinity Catholic School speech team showcases their awards as they take home second place in the 70th annual NDHSAA sponsored State Class B Speech Tournament hosted at Mandan High School on April 29.
Contributed / Janel Schiff

DICKINSON - Communication, critical thinking and overcoming the common fear of public speaking are a few skills students from Trinity Catholic School have certainly mastered as took second place in the 70th annual NDHSAA sponsored State Class B Speech Tournament hosted at Mandan High School on April 29.

The Trinity team consists of 28 members between grades 7-12 who compete in various speech categories from radio broadcasting to extemporaneous speaking after months of practice.

Janel Schiff is one of the speech coaches who helps prepare the students throughout speech season and was proud to see her students' confidence in the competition.

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Trinity Catholic School Speech team coaches celebrate their team who placed second in state and coach Schiff who was named Region X Coach of the Year at the Class B State Tournament in Mandan on April 29, 2023.
Contributed / Janel Schiff

“I'm particularly happy that our kids have distributed their events and they've chosen to compete in both oral interpretation and public speaking which makes them very well rounded because it can take a while for them to find the categories that suit them best,” Schiff said.

Will O’Shields reigned as State Champion this year competing in the serious prose category, a winning moment that he said felt unreal.


“I remember doing my piece for the last time and I ended it off as the end of the book does where it says ‘So now live for real’ and I look around the room and I say ‘live, live, live,’ and I just have a little smile and I put my piece down and in my mind, I’m going that was the best time I've ever done it. I got the reaction I needed. I got a tear from someone in the audience. I felt very proud of that,” said O’Shields.

O’Shields remembers feeling like his jaw was on the floor when he realized he won.

“It did not feel real. And I remember sitting back down waiting for all the other stuff to be over and I remember being like, wow, that happened,” said O’Shields.

Abbygail Linker has had the unique experience of competing in all 14 speech events throughout her speech career, a feat that not many students are able to achieve.

“Most people kind of pick two or three events to really specialize in but over the course of my speech career, I was given a lot of opportunity and I was able to compete in all 14 of them, which I'm super grateful for because I grew a lot in so many different areas,” Linker said.

Linker finds storytelling to be her most challenging event in terms of channeling things like character voices, though she found radio broadcasting to be her favorite of the 14 categories.

“You're in the room with the judge but the judge doesn't see you so it was a really unique challenge to only have my voice,” Linker said.

Ian Dorval has found his niche in extemporaneous speaking, a category he said most kids lean away from just due to the nature of the topics and the stress of not having the whole thing written out right before you.


For example, Dorval’s question at state was ‘Is Turkey becoming a drone superpower?’ which while somewhat intimidating, Dorval embraced diving into research an finding points to back up his answer.

“I think it's a different kind of stress. My favorite part is definitely doing that research aspect of it and being able to back up an opinion with solid founded research,” Dorval said.

Paula Meyer and Hazel Emter competed in extemporaneous program reading where students are challenged with finding a way to leave a lasting impression on the judges.

“The hardest part is that every single person does the same exact piece. They might cut it differently, but it's the same exact piece. So you have to find a way to stick out and leave an imprint on the judges with the exact same pieces,” said Meyer.

Emter feels like through these events she has learned a variety of useful skills like time management, planning, and organization.

Schiff, who was also recognized as the 2023 Region X Coach of the Year during the event, feels similarly, noting that students who participate in speech are able to gain and hone in on skills that are not only applicable to them in the future but benefit them overall.

“It has such real life practical application where they're aware of issues, they're aware of how to research, they're aware of potential bias, they're aware of fallacies and then in turn, they hone their writing skills and are able to craft a well structured speech. Also, some of the events require them to use their time management skills and think on their feet,” Schiff said.

The Trinity Catholic School speech team consists of 28 members between grades 7-12 who compete 14 different speech categories from radio broadcasting to extemporaneous speaking after months of practice before competing in a statewide competition.
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Allison is a news reporter from Phoenix, Arizona where she earned a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. After college, she worked as a middle school writing teacher in the valley. She has made her way around the U.S. driving from Arizona to Minnesota and eventually finding herself here in Dickinson. She has a passion for storytelling and enjoys covering community news.
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