By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — GOOSE LAKE — Northeast students may not have had class on Thursday. But for 60 of them, there was still plenty of work to be done in the halls in Goose Lake, as members of the school’s group speech team geared up for a new event this weekend.
On Saturday, those halls will serve as the host space for roughly 400 students from 16 Iowa schools. The Iowa High School Speech Association district competition will be under way.
“We’re really excited. This is something we had to get on a waiting list for to be able to host,” said Jennifer Huling, Northeast English teacher and head speech team coach. “It’s something we wanted to do when we made the auditorium addition to our building. It’s great for our fine arts boosters as well.”
The competition, one of 12 taking place throughout the state that day, includes students from Camanche, Clinton and Prince of Peace among other area schools in the quadrant. Two of the schools are bringing freshmen teams, bringing the total number of participating squads to 18.
It will be a great way for Northeast High to showcase its new auditorium, Huling said. A bulk of the 15 group events — ranging from improvisation to one-act plays — will take place within the theater built three years ago.
Huling has been a part of speech ever since she was in high school at East Central. Her love of the activity led her to coaching the Calamus-Wheatland team for five years before coming to Goose Lake to assume Northeast’s program. There she was joined by assistant coach Matt Bolahan and volunteer coach Nancy Jargo.
“I had the experience of going to all-state and just loved the experience I got from speech,” she said. “Speech is something that I’ve always just been apart of.”
Students, Huling added, use speech for a number of outlets, not limited to writing, creative expression, filmmaking and acting. She said the student body has promoted the activity, and that has led to numerous participants, for which she’s proud.
“Some students, and I, enjoy creating things and putting them into action,” Huling said.
Normal speech competitions divide participants in each category into groups, or rounds. During each round students are scored on their performance with a number scale. A “1” mark denotes a first place for the round. When scores are tallied, students advance further into the competition.
Those students are then pooled into a final round based on their scores. In the finals, a winner is declared based on the same scoring system.
Huling said groups who receive a “1” grade on Saturday will move on to the state competition.
“If you get anything but a one — a two, a three or a four — you’re done. Cutthroat,” she said.
The public is invited to attend this free event. Judges will meet at 7 a.m. with performances beginning roughly an hour after. Huling said she expects competition to conclude by 3 p.m. with ceremonies concluding by 4 p.m.
She encourages the community to partake in the event, and added that the work of 60 to 70 Goose Lake volunteers will help keep the event running on time.
Donations are welcome for attendees.