Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


March 6, 2006

Speech, the other Greensburg sectional

By the time early morning had become late afternoon, Greensburg Community High School speech coach Kathy Shroyer was slumped over the counter in the high school office.

“It went pretty smoothly,” she said smiling through her exhaustion as Greensburg’s non-sports sectional came to a close. “It’s always a rat race in the beginning, but nothing chaotic happened.”

Over the weekend, Greensburg played host to not only the boys basketball sectional but also the speech sectional. At 6:30 a.m., 15 different schools converged on the building and by 8 a.m., some 500 students were hard at work ensuring their oratorical skills were heard.

And heard they were, a multitude of times as these hundreds of students were whittled down to seven finalists in 14 categories ranging from prose and poetry to scripted duos and discussion.

The process is a little different from a sporting event. Students perform in three preliminary rounds with judges comprised of coaches and teachers from the competing schools. Each student is assigned an anonymous three-digit number and each school a code. This way, organizers can ensure that no conflicts will arise.

The students perform in groups of seven in front of two judges. In each round, they are ranked in order of best performance. The ones with the highest marks move on to the semi-final rounds and then the finals, where they speak in front of three judges who rank them once again. These students who make it to the final round are already guaranteed a slot in the state competition and the last round determines their rank in that event.

All involved said it can be a long, arduous process. Students could be found converging on the cafeteria, in corners listening to iPods, conversing with friends from other schools and sleeping in hallways to make it through the day.

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