Students Accept New Speech Model

Olivia Moody, JP student writer

Due to the risk of Covid-19 exposure, the speech students and coaches learn that the season will look a little different.

Speech, a winter school activity, will be using different models to make the activity as safe as possible.  

Before the school was able to make a decision they had a meeting with the Iowa High School Speech Association. Susan Vernon, the speech coach stated, “First we heard from someone in Washington D.C. tasked with providing guidance recommendations for all theatre-related high school events in the nation. He talked a lot about aerosol studies and how to keep kids as safe as possible while practicing and performing. He was realistic about the risks involved, but also about precautions we can take to make things safer.”

Schools were also given four options pertaining to the format of speech meets. The choices were: hosting a live meet with only students from a single school,;  gathering two to three schools for a meet; Holding  a virtual contest and hiring a judge;  or performing virtually and sending it to a judge for state competition. Vernon, Tia Stubbs and Reece Satre made the decision to use the in-person meet for North Polk students only and the several school models for the state meet. 

Vernon showed insights on the season this year, “We will plan everything. Everything will be masked. Judges have been instructed to be lenient about facial expressions. We will miss out on the fun group atmosphere, but may benefit from the lower stress environment.”

Although the speech season will be missing lots of the fun aspects of the activity, students seem to be interested. This year, 56 students showed interest in participating in the activity, which is at least 10 more than last year. 

Vernon reacts to the meeting saying, “They seemed excited even though they are missing out on the fun camaraderie of the BIG contests.”

Faith Sardou, a senior who has been in speech since seventh grade, still has high hopes for the season. 

Sardou responded to the abnormal season saying,  “I was super pumped for this year and had been brainstorming ideas of what to do since speech last year, and yes I understand it won’t be the same as what I was originally hoping for, but I still really want to make some memories with these people and enjoy it as much as we can. If we can get the most we can out of it, it will be a great season filled with many memories that encourage underclassmen to continue to try for next year.”

Many speech students agree that the school has made the right decision to keep speech small and distanced from large amounts of people. 

Sardou shares the way most students feel, “The lack of people at the contests will definitely have an impact on the season, but there isn’t really any way you can get around it. I know we’ll still have fun but it just isn’t going to be the same. It will take some adjusting to get used to it and work but we can do it.”