COVID-19 Can’t Stop Speech

Senior+Braden+Hoyer+%28left%29%2C+freshman+Luke+O%27Brien+%28middle%29%2C+and+Junior+Laci+Mchenry+%28right%29+discussing+at+their+State+Competition.+

Molly Martin

Senior Braden Hoyer (left), freshman Luke O’Brien (middle), and Junior Laci Mchenry (right) discussing at their State Competition.

Grace Niemuth, Writer

High school speech has suffered many hindrances during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the Kennedy High School Speech program from excelling. 10 of the school’s 12 groups competed at the state competition, a majority receiving high scores. 

This State Speech Competition, usually held in the Kennedy High School building for teams from all over Iowa, was held at multiple schools instead. This was done to maintain social distancing and to keep participants safer. 

Caleb Marner, one of the Head Speech Directors at Kennedy, explained that Kennedy hosted their own state competition  Saturday, Feb. [day]. Family members of the speakers were allowed to watch the competition. Everyone in the building was required to wear a mask at all times.

Although COVID-19 forced a multitude of changes, Marner is satisfied with his students and their efforts. 

It may not be perfect, but the students still strive to do their best, to work and challenge their abilities,” Marner said. “I am happy and impressed with how the students are adjusting and managing this difficult year for Speech.” 

Josh Horne, a senior in the musical theater and radio broadcasting categories and a four-year speech competitor, confessed Speech feels more disconnected compared to previous years.

“In past years, it felt like all the separate categories were a big team, and you’d get to watch and hear about all the other performances. This year, the different groups feel more isolated.” Horne said.

Horne still enjoys Speech and doesn’t regret being in the activity again. Both Horne’s groups received ones overall at the State competition, which is the highest score a group can receive.

“It’s been a great experience to try to better myself as a performer in these trying times.” Horne stated.

First-year members, like Hugh Duffy, sr., would agree.

“I enjoy this online format slightly more than in person,” Duffy said. “The online format allowed me to audition easier and work on my own time. Although I do miss the in-person interaction, I think that it turned out better in the long run.”

Duffy is in the radio broadcasting category in the same group, called Tongue Twister Radio, as well as Josh Horne and Aleyah Sidhu (jr). Their group, along with three others all made it to All-State. Two ensemble acting groups, one called The Other Four Times and the other called The Last Call both made it. The musical theater group called Songs for a New World also made it.