MOUNT VERNON — From declamation to poetry to Shakespeare, orators from Centerburg High School, Clear Fork High School and Danville High School recently put their speaking/performing skills to the test during the 2012 Knox County Speech contest, held April 26 in the First Presbyterian Church.
They were evaluated in areas such as poise, content and delivery.
Clear Fork High School fielded the sole entry in the Chamber Theatre category. They won the division, but it was not simply by default. Narrator Chrissy Rawlins introduced the romantic comedy/fairy tale skit, “A Princess’ Hand in Marriage,” and D.J. Van Houten and Isaiah Papst each played multiple parts, including king, queen, prince, princess and squire. Their transition from role to role and to characters of different genders was smooth and entertaining, and the audience laughed and chuckled throughout the performance, even though every character ends up dead in the end.
Other winners of the traveling plaque in each category were: Dramatic Literature — Allyn Frye, Danville High School; Poetry — Taylor Winand, Clear Fork High School; Shakespeare — Katie Frye, DHS; Original Oratory — Carolyn Rehbein, CFHS; Humorous Literature — Lindsay Mapes, Centerburg High School; and Declamation — Isaiah Papst, CFHS.
Other students taking part in the competition were Mariah Cline, DHS, Lia Hickinbotham, CFHS, Lelis Dusthimer, DHS, and Allisyn Morris, DHS. Madelyn Strickling and Ben Stutz served as announcers/timekeepers.
Centerburg’s speech coach is Megan Stewart, Rachel Titko supervises Clear Fork’s speech team and Beth Durbin coaches the Danville squad.
The volunteer judges for the event, Susan Hayes, William Shriver and Mark Bohland, said they were impressed with the caliber of everyone’s performance this year.
“All of these students have shown a great deal of talent,” said Shriver. “These skills can translate in the business field as well as the creative field.”
Danville coach Durbin added, “Employers are asking for good communication skills today, and that definitely includes speaking. They are also not finding them in candidates. We think that it is important that we prepare students to be good candidates.”
Peggy Dunn helps coach the Danville team. She firmly believes in the merits of speech competition.
“I think it’s an activity that gives students a lot of polish,” she said. “They engage in events they might not otherwise come in contact with. I think also it expands what they are learning in the classroom in a different way. Students are so caught up in social media and a quick fix to communication. This requires critical thinking, analysis and that type of thing.
“For a retired teacher, working one-on-one with students to help them explore literature in both a critical and creative way is so rewarding.”
The students, too, said the contest was a valuable experience. They liked the immediate feedback given by the judges, and enjoyed watching other competitors show off their skills.