Speech Team Works for Continued Success
On January 20th, West Sioux’s large group speech team traveled to Sheldon to compete in the district competition.
The team members who performed are: (seniors) Kailey Bak, Madison Aldrich, Vannesa Bueso, Danna Schipper, (juniors) Rylee Bakker, Jewel Christensen, Ana Topete, Majessa Von Hagel, (sophomores) Jadilyn Vargas, Caitlyn Bushby, Matt Cobb, Shayden Blankenship, Megan Morgan, Trinity Stevens, Sheradyn Steever, and (Freshman) Edyn Dekkers.
They are coached by Melinda Bak. Coach Bak has been in charge of the speech program for 11 years now. She started coaching because the coach before her was moving to another school district, and she didn’t want those kids not to have a program. So, the following year she took the job. Bak had no experience coaching before that but through the years she has learned many new things.
Bak said, “I’ve never really liked speaking or performing in front of large groups of people but being able to help students overcome that same fear is absolutely great.”
Madison Aldrich said, “I am in large group speech because I love performing. Freshman year my friend convinced me to join and I ended up loving it. This year I participated in choral reading and group improv. I’m always nervous before performances, but once I start and focus on what I need to do the nerves go away. I have a lot of great memories from large group speech, but my favorite is making it to state in choral reading the past two years. This is my favorite because last year we had no idea what we were doing, and it worked for us and this year we are covering such a heavy topic and I think that it is a message everyone needs to hear. I have been in large groups speech all four years of high school. Speech has helped me come out of my shell, and I think if I hadn’t done it freshman year, I wouldn’t be the same person. I am definitely going to miss performing with my best friends. Participating in speech was the highlight of my high school experience.”
Large group speech has 11 categories for students to choose from. They are: group improvisation, ensemble acting, choral reading, readers theater, one act play, musical theater, group mime, solo mime, radio broadcasting, TV news, and short film. Each student is allowed to choose two categories to perform in. Performers go before one judge at districts. If they receive a I rating, then they get to go to state.
Kailey Bak said, “I have been in speech since my freshman year and every year it gets better. You can find the place where you fit in and excel. I wouldn’t trade my speech memories for the world.” This year they had an improv group, choral reading, mime group, an ensemble acting group, and a solo mime performing at districts. This is just the second year they have tackled the choral reading category. Several of the girls who did it last year and a few new ones decided to talk about mental illness. The girls like choosing heavy topics and giving really powerful performances.
Coach Bak said, “I had parents tell me to record them performing and get it out on social media because people need to see them perform and hear their message. That’s very overwhelming.”
Jewel Christensen said, “I participated in large group because I love to perform in front of an audience, and it gives me the chance to express emotions that I can’t show any other day. Even if I’m not acting as myself.” She participated in group mime this year and has been on Bak’s team for the last two years. Christensen has enjoyed every moment of it.
Out of the four groups and the solo mime that went to districts, the four groups made it on to state. The young lady that performed her solo mime piece unfortunately didn’t move on, but it was her first year performing. Coach Bak hopes that if she keeps working at it and watches some performances at state she can get a better understanding about it and come back next year and do better. Overall, Bak was very happy with how everyone performed.
Coach Bak’s favorite thing about coaching is seeing her kids get to All-State. It is the ultimate recognition of all the work the kids put in. It has always been a blast for them to go because they all act silly, sing in the car, go out to eat, and get to see other great performances at All-State.
Trinity Steven said, “My whole group put forth effort to get better.” Trinity participated in group mime and has been in speech for two years.
Bak admits that not all of the groups who started the season performed in Sheldon. They had four other groups signed up, but for a variety of reasons, did not go to districts. The coach doesn’t remember ever having to drop so many groups before this year.
“It’s disappointing that everyone wasn’t able to perform,” said Bak.
The team had another group mime, a TV news group, a short film, and a radio broadcasting group that weren’t able make it happen.
“I have learned that public speaking isn’t always scary. It can be fun, and you can speak your mind. You can speak about whatever you really want to. I have learned that I want my performing arts qualities to follow me into my adult life, because it’s what I love to do. It is just something I really love to do. I get to act in different ways and categories. It makes me really happy to do something I love and excel at it,” said Rylee Bakker. She participated in group improv and choral reading this year. She has been in speech for three years.
The groups who moved on will now perform on Saturday, February 3rd in LeMars. Most of the team members are in other activities as well. The team had to make a special request to have all of their performances early in the day because the wrestling cheerleaders need to get to sectionals in Sibley before noon.