On Saturday, Jan. 21, Northwest Iowa high school students came to NW to present their large group speeches before audiences and judges. The competition was held across campus, with multiple performance centers taking place in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Building, DeWitt Music Hall, DeWitt Learning Commons and Van Peursem Hall.
In an IHSSA competition, freshmen through seniors may compete in up to two categories, showcasing different skills associated with them. The different events cover a wide array of theatrical skills. Some events focus on the ability to blend voices and move together as a group, while others are prerecorded and rely heavily on creating and executing an engaging storyline. Others are improvised the day of competition.
No matter what event students participate in, it is the goal of the IHSSA to “provide a family to a diverse group of high school students, inspiring their voices and empowering their identities through large group, individual, and debate activities.”
The groups performed their pieces before the judge of their centers who wrote reactions, suggestions and gave oral comments. On each of the ballots, judges gave groups a rating. Groups receiving a division-I rating at the district level accelerate to the state-level competition where they compete against all other groups in their event in the district for the chance to be nominated for All-State Speech.
Lissa Lane-Johnson, an Iowa speech coach of over 20 years and alumna of NW, commented on her hopes for her students on competition day. “I just want the kids to have fun and enjoy sharing what they worked on, to do the best they can and not worry about what’s next,” Lane-Johnson said.
NW’s facilities proved to be favorable on competition day. Usually held within a high school, having the centers spread out allowed for less crowded halls than the typical competition day. Another unique aspect NW offered was multiple dining options across campus, as opposed to the typical one or two offered at other competitions.
Jodi Grant, NW’s theatre department office manager, oversaw preparation for the event. She has worked for IHSSA for over 20 years and currently serves as one of two people who schedule all speech competitions for the Northwest district of Iowa. When asked what she hoped for the event she responded, “Of course, that students get to see our campus and our department, and they want to come back.”
Grant also remarked that she hopes NW will get the opportunity to host the competition again, being that it is beneficial for the high school students and the college alike and proved to be a successful day.
Students who earned a division-I rating now set their sights on the State Large Group Speech Competition, which is set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Le Mars High School.