Talking to walls

The junior high speech tournament was a success for many young speakers on the speech team.


Cal VandeHoef

The junior high speakers posed for a goofy photo after a successful day.

It was an ordinary day at South St. Paul High School, except for a few minor details… The biggest one being the crowd of students dressed up in suits, talking to lockers. They were preparing themselves for a not so ordinary event. 

On February 6, there was a competition held at South St. Paul for the speechies. Only students in grades 6-9 got to go to this particular competition as it was designed for Junior High competitors. One other unique thing about this tournament was the day it took place on. Normally, speech tournaments are held on Saturdays, starting in the morning and going through the afternoon. But, this tournament was on a Thursday night after school, ensuring that students would be running on caffeine for the entirety of this late-night tournament. As many people walked down the hallways, they could see students from a multitude of schools performing speeches to lockers or walls in preparation for their performances, all the while stressing out.

They put their stuff in camp, an area in the cafeteria for speechies to take a break and converse with others. Rounds, or groups in which speakers compete against each other, were posted in the library or in the cafeteria. Unlike most Saturday tournaments, there were no concessions at the Junior High tournament. Instead, people had the opportunity to pre-order pizzas for dinner. Those who ordered pizza had them and people who didn’t put on their best puppy dog eyes and begged for a slice. 

Draw categories, or categories that draw different speeches every round, have different schedules for when rounds are supposed to start. These categories include Extemporaneous Reading, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Storytelling. They have drawings in the “draw room”, which is most often the library, which decides what story each speaker will tell or which topic they will give a speech on for in the round in question. They are then given 30 minutes to prepare this speech. Once the 30 minutes are up, they are brought into rounds to perform a 7-minute speech, while the rest of the categories give their 10-minute speeches. Some other categories take their script from a book, play, or speech while still others write their own script. 

There were three rounds like any other tournament at that point in the speech season. The competitors performed their speech for their rounds as best as they could and the judges would then give them scores based on their performance. After the judges had submitted their scores to the tab room, the tab room people calculated the best performers from each category to receive awards.

I liked the lecture halls and it was fun because [the seating] was so high.”

— Torin Strecker

The Cannon Falls team placed second at the tournament behind Jordan High School. All individual participants brought home a ribbon whether they got 8th place, 1st place, an honorable mention, or anything in between. Siri Churchill from Creative Expression, Sophia Stainbrook from Original Oratory, Tristin Qualey from Poetry, and Nathan Baszuro from Prose were all champions of their respective categories taking home the first place ribbon. Torin Strecker from Great Speeches commented saying, “I liked the lecture halls and it was fun because [the seating] was so high.”One of the judges, Emma Conway, also commented saying, “It was really fun to go and not be competing myself and just watch all of the speakers.” Overall, South St. Paul was a rather successful competition for the youth of Cannon Falls.