The Chatfield speech team for 2012 includes, in front, from left, Marissa Hanson, Tess LaFrenier, Kayla Nelson, Gia Cole and Keagan Anthony. In the second row are Danielle Norton, Alli Hanson, A.C. Chow, Morgan Round and Frankie Littrell. In the third row are Alex Kreter, Brian Pagnano, Gabby Bouska, Hannah McBroom and Brianna Martinka. Not shown are Levi Cole, Eleanore McCook, Celene Arellano and Krystal Martin. (Chatfield News photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
The Chatfield speech team for 2012 includes, in front, from left, Marissa Hanson, Tess LaFrenier, Kayla Nelson, Gia Cole and Keagan Anthony. In the second row are Danielle Norton, Alli Hanson, A.C. Chow, Morgan Round and Frankie Littrell. In the third row are Alex Kreter, Brian Pagnano, Gabby Bouska, Hannah McBroom and Brianna Martinka. Not shown are Levi Cole, Eleanore McCook, Celene Arellano and Krystal Martin. (Chatfield News photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)

Speech: It's the anti-turtle.

"It can cause a shy kid to come out of his or her shell, and it can take outgoing kids and teach them to use their abilities to entertain and to affect positive changes on a topic," said Chatfield speech adviser Kelly Puent, speaking of why participation in the district's speech program is beneficial to students.

This year's team includes Levi Cole, Tess LaFrenier, Kayla Nelson, Eleanore McCook, Brian Pagnano, A.C. Chow, Marissa Hanson, Krystal Martin, Danielle Norton, Alex Kreter, Frankie Littrell, Celene Arellano, Brianna Martinka, Keagan Anthony, Gabby Bouska, Hannah McBroom, Alli Hanson, Morgan Round and Gia Cole. 


The team, which formed in January, has competed at Lourdes High School in Rochester, two tournaments at Wabasha High School, at Lewiston-Altura, hosted a home meet in Chatfield along with conference tournaments, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Stewartville for sub-section competition.

"We began practices in early January of this year. The speech team in general has been in the district for a number of years. We've competed at 10 different tournaments so far all over southeast Minnesota. Our season of competition starts the first week in February and runs through April 21. We recently completed the sub-section tournament in Stewartville and 10 of our students qualified to move onto the section tournament that will be in Byron on April 14. The state tournament will take us to Chanhassen (the next weekend), but we also have many tournaments that are near to Chatfield." 


Chatfield's students have medals and ribbons to show for their efforts.

"Most of our speech team members have placed at tournaments multiple times in multiple categories. There are a large number of them that have placed at every tournament they have gone to.

At sub-sections, Brian Pagnano placed second in the category of discussion, Levi Cole placed third in drama, Marissa Hanson and Alex Kreter placed sixth in duo, Alli Hanson was eighth in extemporaneous reading, Tess LaFrenier was seventh in humorous, Danielle Norton was third in prose, Gia Cole was eighth in prose, Gabby Bouska was fifth in poetry and Kayla Nelson was third in poetry.

Students that placed sixth or better automatically have a spot to compete at sections. Those that placed seventh or eighth are alternates to compete at sections.

The adviser explained how competitions proceed.

"Students are judged during three rounds. In each round they are ranked from one to five, one being the best rank and five being the lowest. They are also rated on percentage at tournaments and subsections. One hundred percent is the best rate and rates rarely go below 80 percent. Their ranks and rates are then added together to determine who places in each category.

"Sometimes a category will be small, with only five or six entries. Sometimes the categories are larger with up to 30 or more entries. There are 13 different categories that students can enter. Many will just enter one category at a time, but some will also double enter."



Although public speaking often causes fear, speech students "do on a Saturday morning for fun what most people are afraid to do their entire lives," as the team's motivational signs in the school state.

Puent commented, "The kids are usually pretty excited to go to the tournaments. There aren't many things that could get a kid to come to school on a Saturday morning earlier than if it were a regular school day. Our kids are here bright and early and ready to go."

She continued, "With any competition, there is a thrill in knowing you're competing against others and have the potential to place and be recognized for your efforts. Students also get to meet and form friendships with students that come from all different districts throughout southeast Minnesota and sometimes the rest of the state. It's a great chance for them to not only compete, but to socialize and network with others."


Participation in speech competition provides a unique experience for students.

"This is an opportunity for students to excel in an extracurricular (activity) even if they are not interested in being on a sports team. Many of our kids also compete in sports, however, and for them it gives them a chance to experience the artistic side of their personalities and development.

"It lets them explore their creative side, build confidence and prepares them to handle themselves well in a public speaking setting. After all, most of us at one point or another will have to speak in front of a group. It may be for a job, at a wedding, a funeral, a public meeting or another important life event. But very few people go through life without having to speak to a group sometime."

For parents, she outlined the benefits of allowing students to have a voice in speech.

"This is something that is a great benefit to their kids... getting shy kids out of their shells. Speaking well is also a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives."



Puent enjoys advising the speech team for numerous reasons.

"Categories and competitions are fun in themselves, and it's very enjoyable to work with kids on a more individual basis. You get to know them better, and can see their progress throughout the season and the years that they compete. We have a very strong and talented team with a number of dedicated members. They are a great group of kids with a lot of talent and heart."

She invited prospective team members to join and venture to tournaments with the group.

"If you are willing to put in the time for speech, it's a challenging, rewarding and fun experience."