East hosts speech conference for first time

Eddie Burgin , Entertainment Editor

On Jan. 22, Plainfield East hosted a Southwest Prairie Conference speech contest for the first time in the school’s history.
“Speech team is a wonderful IHSA activity that allows students to participate in public speaking, interpretive reading, and/or acting events,” Kady Fairfield, social studies teacher and the team’s head coach, said.
Conference is an event hosted by a rotation of IHSA affiliated schools in which different speech teams compete in specific categories. The PEHS speech team has existed since the school’s founding.
Erin Portman, English teacher and assistant coach, worked with Fairfield to handle the team and the conference itself.
“We [had] to figure out room assignments, hospitality, awards, judges… It’s just a lot of coordination. I’m very lucky that coach Portman likes logistics,” Fairfield said.
During the IHSA regional competition on Feb. 5, juniors Brent Cudal and Obinna Ohale placed fourth in Humorous Duet Acting while junior Aylin Salgado placed fourth in Dramatic Interpretation.
Many students find the club helpful as a method to practice speaking skills in an encouraging environment, such as senior Jordyn Simon. She is involved in impromptu, in which students choose from three quotes to prepare a six-minute speech.
“It’s hard, but it’s rewarding,” Simon said. In previous years, Simon competed in prose.
“It’s very similar to an argumentative essay that I had to do for AP Language and Composition, and I decided that I can do it. This is just a spoken form of what I’ve already done,” Simon said.
One of the most common means of preparation is practice, practice, practice.
While Simon utilizes world sayings and quotes to practice, many speech students memorize pieces they have edited from a professional piece or one they have written themselves.
“I spend the majority of my time memorizing… Before you can really do anything in dramatic interpretation, I have to memorize the entire thing to dramatically interpret the piece,” freshman Ollie Wojczynski said prior to a competition.
Depending on the event, different speeches have different rules. While some are written and performed on the day of a competition, others are memorized or written by the student.
Laine Cibulskis, a four-year participant and captain of the team, participated in a memorization-heavy event. Specifically, an oratorical declamation of a TED talk by Sarri Gilman on boundaries.
“I felt like if I was able to focus on this one topic, like boundaries, something really important to us as a society that I feel like society lacks sometimes, that is really necessary to emphasize, and it was really cool getting to know that speech and memorizing it,” Cibulskis said.
She leads her team through stretches, breathing exercises, lip trills, and tongue twisters such as “You know New York. You need New York. You know you need unique New York.”
Speech team has led many students to finding a community environment and feeling more comfortable with their voices.
“My favorite part of speech is the people that are in it,” Cibulskis said.