Conestoga Speech Team Starts Their Season

Murray, Neb.- As second semester comes to a close, Conestoga’s “Trendsetters” speech team is just gearing up for their season. The Trendsetters have been a historically competitive team, but, after facing declining participation, they’ve seen some setbacks. However, coach Jessica Schlictemeier hopes this year might be the one to finally bring them back. “This season is our first in about three years where we will be fielding a full team,” Schlictemeier said. “COVID really set us back, but we are finally competing where we were prior to 2020.”

For speech, students have the opportunity to compete in a wide variety of events ranging from political, to poetic, to a small play and everything in between. Each one gives students the chance to choose something that they are interested in or passionate about. Schlichtemeier gave one example of how a single topic can translate to different events. “Say a student is passionate about ending school shootings. Someone could write a persuasive speech about gun control, but they could also do a poetry program [poems revolving around a theme spliced together] on that topic, a serious prose [dramatic reading] of the book 19 Minutes about a school shooting, get a group of friends and do an OID [3-5 person play] of Clowns with Guns, or combine all those elements and create a program of oral interp [similar to poetry but using all types of media].”

This individualized experience is a large part of what differentiates speech from sports or even other activities. Speech is very flexible with students’ schedules. They have a wide range of practice times to come in and work with coaches and they can make their speech schedule fit around other obligations as needed. Speech also provides a lot of real world skills relating to giving presentations and public speaking confidence. It even relates to school. Schictemeier describes it as, “‘co-curricular activity’, meaning students take what they learn in speech class and apply it to a competitive event (or events) they are interested in.”

How speech works as a competitive event is somewhat comparable to track. Everyone competes in different events for personal recognition, and their performance can then get points for their team. But, as Schlictemeier put it, “we wear suits.” Unlike track though, individuals do not perform in front of a large crowd. Instead, they are in a classroom with just a few people, usually only their competitors and a judge.

This year, the Conestoga speech kids are preparing to have a great season. They are putting together a competitive team and giving opportunities for veterans and novices alike. With a growing team and raised prospects, they are hoping to make this season a trendsetter!