Noted author, poet and lecturer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once wrote, “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” The members of the Rowan County Senior High School Speech Team took those words to heart at this year’s Kentucky Educational Speech and Drama Association State Tournament and it paid off. The team, which has had a long history of state championships, had hit a drought over the past several years finishing second and third in the state tournament. This year, though, the RCSHS Speech Team and their head coach, Mrs. Brittany Stacy-Brewer brought back the state championship trophy, finishing ahead of its closest competitor and rival, Danville High School.
Working their way toward the state championship tournament, the members of the Speech Team took part in various speech competitions, honing their skills and perfecting their pieces. The team finished in first place at each lower level competition, giving the students hope for a top place at the state tournament.
Practice comes first, though, before any student can take part in any speech tournament. The members of the Rowan County Senior High School Speech Team have turned practice into an art form, spending several hours each week perfecting their selected works. It is not an uncommon sight to turn a corner in the hallways of the high school or peek in the Performing Arts Center and find students working alone or as a group reciting an excerpt from a story or performing a persuasive speech. Volunteer coaches, some of them alumni of the speech team, assist the students and give them pointers. It is this level of dedication that head coach Brittany Stacy-Brewer sees as the reason for the team’s success.
“It has taken a lot of hard work, time and effort for the students to perform at the level they are now. Their success is a direct result of not the only the students’ hard work but also of my wonderful coaching staff as well. We have all been here together for hours upon hours, and that time has obviously paid off.”
While these hours of practice have helped the students earn honors at tournaments, their participation on the speech team also has a positive effect that has helped build a family atmosphere among the team members. Kim Elam, whose daughter, Sarah, a freshman at Rowan County Senior High School, is a member of the Speech Team, stated, “The RCSHS Speech Team offers a sense of belonging and family to students. Although it is competitive, the students from our high school seem to be a family in that when one student wins, they all feel like winners and when one student struggles, all members feel this and respond by helping that struggling student.”
She then added, “When my daughter, Sarah, entered high school, she felt a sense of confidence and belonging because of her speech team friends that she had had since the 6th grade. Speech for Sarah is about the camaraderie of the team and the love of performing.”
Rowan County Senior High School may have one of the largest speech teams in the state, but it is also one of the most disciplined as well. They truly make their presence known when they are taking part in speech tournaments.
“The high school’s Speech team has become a well-organized machine, so to speak,” said Dwayne Adkins, English teacher at Rowan County Senior High School and one of the team’s assistant coaches. “By being organized, we are able to maintain the discipline and help each student meet his or her individual needs.”
Mr. Adkins added, “Being part of the speech team helps students in so many ways, and not just in high school. For instance, students taking part in the limited preparation events have to learn to think on their feet and defend their opinions. In speech, a student learns poise, dedication and the reward of continuous effort – lessons that will go with these students well beyond high school and into their future careers.”
The members of the state-championship RCSHS Speech Team are: (seniors) Arlo Barnette, Kristin Busby, Brandi Hall, Jamiee Harty, Sam Johnson, Reema Patel, Chris Perez, Chloe Phillips, Cassidy Teager; (juniors) Megan Armstrong, Hayden Ewers, Olivia Gearner, Katie Fossett, Aki Hosoda, Autumn Johnson, Jessie Koett, Grant Markwell, Yulia Perevozchikova, Zach Ramey, Becca Stamm, Matt Thomas, Alison Towell; (sophomores) Monica Bailey, Ellen Barnette, Kyle Blankenbuehler, Katie Fannin, Abbey Geurin, Lane Hedrick, Bridget Kim, Jacob Lindberg, Olivia Nickell, Bethany Pace, Kyle Powers, Sadie Rodgers, Abbie Sloan, Isabella Thaxton, Savannah Tygart; (freshmen) Kristen Ammons, Elizabeth Bowman, Sarah Elam, Ian Gordon, Rachel Kazee, Emily Moore, Makda Mehari, Joe Newcomb, Andrew Sexton and Eura Shin. Coaches for the team are Brittany Stacy-Brewer, head coach, Dwayne Adkins, assistant coach, Ryan Brown, Wheeler Green, Kasandra Lambert, and Shayla Menville, additional assistants.
Individual results for the KESDA State Speech Tournament are as follows:
Broadcasting: Cassidy Teager, 2nd; Becca Stamm, 3rd; Zach Ramey, 4th.
Declamation: Bethany Pace, 2nd; Lane Hedrick, 4th; Makda Mehari, 6th.
Dramatic Interpretation: Kyle Powers, 5th.
Duo Interpretation: Kyle Powers/Bridget Kim, 4th; Aki Hosoda/Emily Moore, 6th.
Expository: Cassidy Teager, 1st; Makda Mehari, 3rd.
Extemporary Speaking: Grant Markwell, 6th.
Group Oral Presentation:
Kyle Powers, Grant Markwell, Bridget Kim, Isabella Thaxton, Olivia Nickell, 1st;
Zach Ramey, Aki Hosoda, Bethany Pace, Emily Moore, Katie Fannin, 2nd.
Humorous Interpretation: Aki Hosoda, 6th.
Impromptu Speaking: Becca Stamm, 3rd.
Original Oratory: Cassidy Teager, 1st; Becca Stamm, 4th; Olivia Gearner, 5th.
Poetry: Kyle Powers, 2nd; Bethany Pace, 4th.
Prose: Grant Markwell, 3rd; Isabella Thaxton, 5th; Ian Gordon, 6th.
Storytelling: Arlo Barnette, 1st; Aki Hosoda, 4th.
Pentathalon: Cassidy Teager, 2nd; Becca Stamm, 3rd.