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Speech festival teaches U46 students more than public speaking

Updated: February 18, 2014 6:25AM

ELGIN — Students showcased more than their speaking and acting skills in the district’s second annual U46 Mix Speech and Drama Festival recently at Bartlett High School.

“I observed several students competing in different categories at this year’s festival,” Superintendent José Torres said in a release. “Our students demonstrated impressive public speaking skills, and it’s always exciting to see our students’ hard work pay off.”

The competition included a variety of categories, such as dramatic duet acting, impromptu speaking, radio speaking, original comedy, special-occasion speaking and poetry reading. While some categories required students to work with a partner and minimal props, others asked students to memorize published comedic or dramatic scenes and portray all of the parts.

“I competed in dramatic duet acting. It’s a complex category; each pair does a nine-minute scene,” said Arianna Nutile, a junior at Larkin High School in Elgin, who also competed in informative speaking.

“I think speech not only helps you just competing, but it also helps you with everyday problems. It helps you learn how to problem-solve and how to speak in front of people,” she said. “I even took AP (Advanced Placement) English this year, instead of regular English, because I felt like speech team has actually helped my writing ability.”

Nutile and dramatic duet partner Victor Vyleta ended up placing first in the contest.

Anthony Zoubek, Bartlett High School speech and drama coach, organized the event again this year and added a new twist. He created rubrics, using the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards, and aligned them with the competitive rules of Illinois High School Association speech. Students’ performances were critiqued and scored.

“This competition is an opportunity for students to receive professional critiques to improve their performances for upcoming IHSA speech competitions,” Zoubek said.

Speech teams will compete in two more regular-season tournaments, Upstate Eight, and the IHSA Regional Competition for Individual Events in February. Students in the top categories may move on to IHSA Sectionals and from there the IHSA State Tournament in Peoria.

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