Chatfield speech students getting off to great start

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield High School's speech team is having a ribbon-winning season this year. In front, from left, are Layne Clemens, Aletta Strande, Henry Worden, Breanna Volker and Tyler Glenzinski. In the middle are Larissa Martin, Maria Lawson, Emilie Copeman, Bea Martin, Nick Fryer, Michael Hrstka and JLee Blankenship. In back are Seth Boettcher, Elijah Lawson, Nick Long, Elsie Blankenship, Mary Burshem-Hrstka, Eddie Thorn and Logan Johnson. Not shown are Aidan Wilson, Elizabeth Schieffelbein, Sydney Ellis and Peyton Ellis.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

The Chatfield High School speech students are speaking themselves into the ribbons.

“We’ve had kids place at every meet — too many to list! They’re all doing very well. Many of our youngest team members have found themselves in the ribbons this year, and our older students are placing very well and definitely have high hopes for the rest of the season,” stated Rachel Schieffelbein, speech co-advisor. She, along with co-coach Stephanie Copeman, is proud of the accomplishments of the students on this year’s speech team.

Schieffelbein elaborated, “Everyone did AMAZING at our home speech meet.”

In individual placings, Elijah Lawson got first place in humorous, Larissa Martin got first place in drama, JLee Blankenship got fifth place in drama, Bea Martin got second place in prose, Elijah Lawson got sixth place in prose, Sydney Ellis got fourth place in poetry, Nick Long got fifth place in storytelling, Elizabeth Schieffelbein and Mary Burshem-Hrstka got third place in duo, Maria Lawson and Emilie Copeman got fourth place in duo, Maria Lawson got second place in extemporaneous reading, Mary Burshem-Hrstka got sixth place in extemporaneous reading, and Logan Johnson earned sixth place in creative expression.

“We also placed second out of 16 as a team, so great job, speakers,” Schieffelbein added.

This year’s speech team includes Larissa Martin, Bea Martin, Logan Johnson, JLee Blankenship, Michael Hrstka, Seth Boettcher, Elijah Lawson, Nick Fryer, Eddie Thorn, Aidan Wilson, Maria Lawson, Mary Burshem-Hrstka, Elizabeth Schieffelbein, Emilie Copeman, Aletta Strande, Peyton Ellis, Sydney Ellis, Breanna Volker, Nick Long, Elsie Blankenship, Henry Worden, Layne Clemens and Tyler Glenzinski.

Schieffelbein related, “We have students in serious prose, poetry, drama, creative expression, humorous, duo, informative, extemporaneous reading and storytelling. I have one senior and two juniors. The rest of the team is in seventh through tenth. We have a lot of talented younger members this year.”

Learning to speak well enough to garner a ribbon from a tournament takes practice, and Schieffelbein noted, “We practice after school, and practices start as soon as the students get back from winter break, although some kids pick out their scripts well before that. The team has attended invitational meets in Wabasha-Kellogg, Kasson-Mantorville, Chatfield, Rushford-Peterson, and at John Marshall High School. This weekend, we’ll attend conference, with one more invitational after that before going to subsections March 30.”

She added, “The students learn so much from speech, beyond just public speaking – which is a very important skill by itself. They also learn a lot from being part of the team, cheering each other on, celebrating each other’s successes, or consoling each other when things don’t go as planned. They also learn to set long-term goals. It’s hard being in seventh and eighth grade, competing against juniors and seniors. They learn to celebrate the small achievements along the way, and to not give up if they don’t start earning ribbons right away. They learn to accept constructive criticism, and get excited about a chance to get better rather than letting it get them down. They’re learning a lot of life skills, and they’re such upbeat, positive kids. Stephanie and I are always so proud of them.”

The rewards of participating in speech tournaments have shown themselves to the team’s members.

“It’s always a great feeling to see their hard work pay off. We had a student who made a goal this year to get first place at a meet, and he reached it at our home meet a couple weeks ago. His face lit up. It’s very rewarding,” Schieffelbein said.

And Schieffelbein and Copeman are energized through advising the speech team. “These kids bring me and Stephanie so much joy. They practice hard, they’re there to learn. They go to the meets with so much energy, they cheer each other on, and on the bus home, no matter what happened, they’re back there singing and having fun,” she said. “I love seeing them progress, not just over a season, but over their years in speech.”

She expressed appreciation to the students’ parents for their support of young people learning how to speak in public.

“The parents have been very supportive. They helped again this year with our home meet, running our concession stands, and they bring their kids in to get on the bus before 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Later in the season, we host a parents’ night so they can all come see what their kids have been doing all season. It’s always a fun night,” Schieffelbein concluded.