A Different Competition


Photo by Kashish Patel

“Choose Your Own Adventure” The 2021 Choral Reading group poses for a picture before their performance at the Large Group District Speech. All the participants have been wearing masks throughout their practices and performances. The participants believe that it gives them a chance to play around with their “facial expressions”

January 21, 2021, marked a very different experience for the Large Group Speech participants at Adel DeSoto Minburn High School. Every other year Large Group Speech is hosted by a school in specific districts and all the schools in that district go to that one specific school to present their piece in front of three judges. The judges rate the performances and groups who earn an I go onto State. However, this year Large Group Speech Districts are held very differently keeping in mind all the different COVID mitigation requirements.

This year, the Iowa High School Speech Association, IHSSA, decided to give participating schools the option to choose how they want to perform. The schools could choose from either of the following: in-person at a local school, virtually at a local school, or virtually via the IHSSA State Office site. We chose to have in-person contests, though, there will only be 2 spectators per participant allowed. After each performance spectators will be asked to leave immediately, in order to keep the program moving smoothly.

There are 17 Large Group Speech teams from ADM competing for a spot at State. The speech teams are coached by Jacque Seidl, Emma Bedard, and Benjamin Feltes. Head coach Jacque Seidl remarked, “Well, I mean for the most part I feel like practices and picking pieces are all the same. Our goal as a Speech team is still to encourage kids to work on their communication skills. Going to the contest is a little bit different, however, I am still glad that we have the opportunity to make it happen even with those changes. All the Speech coaches and kids are equally elated to have the opportunity to perform amidst all the new rules and regulations.

One of the large group Speech participants, Sean Whitson, who is a part of Musical Theater and Choral Reading this year, was interviewed to know about how he feels about speech this year. Whitson said, “So the difference with Speech this year is that you need to show a lot more emotion with your eyes and just the way you are communicating has to be a lot different. It’s very different than it has been in the past years but still, it is an amazing opportunity and you get to meet so many cool people and you still get to do something you absolutely love and that’s awesome.”

He also added some details about his Speech groups, “I am involved in Musical Theater and Choral Reading. In my musical theater group, we have a good time and in my choral reading group we get stuff done, well we get stuff done in both but we just have a lot more fun in Musical Theater because it’s much more lucy-goosey but Choral Reading is fun too. We are doing the musical Catch Me If You Can and I am playing the main character, Franky. Brennan McGee is playing the cop that’s trying to catch me and it’s a really fun one. For Choral Reading, we are doing a jungle safari and I play the monkey.”

The Large Group Speech contest was a different experience for all participants and coaches, however, the excitement for going to State and competing at Districts is no different than any other year.

To see the scores of the ADM Large Group Speech Teams, click here.