Tyrone speech team uses new score sheets to uphold old speaking tradition

On Thursday, November 17 at 3:30 p.m. in Williamsburg Community High School, the 20 members of Tyrone’s speech team will use new scoring sheets as they uphold a 92-year-old Tyrone public speaking tradition at the Autumn Convocation of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League.
On October 20, speech coaches from Juniata Valley, Southern Huntingdon, Tyrone and Williamsburg gathered for dinner at Tyrone’s OIP Restaurant where they created new speaker scoring sheets for the Autumn Speech Competition set for November 17 at Williamsburg.
According to Tyrone Speech Coach Richard Merryman, the new speaker scoring sheets will allow amateur forensic judges at the fall competition efficiently to evaluate student speakers using four general standards that include: interesting introductions, understandable and appropriate content, voice, volume, expression and speed and body poise and dress.
Merryman emphasized that speech coaches from the four participating schools decided that the speech league needed new speaker scoring sheets to clarify standards for the speech judges and to decrease the discrepancies in scores that appeared to occur with the old scoring sheets in use since 1985.
Each Wednesday afternoon, as Tyrone students prepare for their Autumn Competition at Williamsburg on November 17, they take seriously their duty to uphold a 92-year-old public speaking tradition at Tyrone High that began in 1913.
In an article that appeared in Tyrone’s first yearbook of 1915, called the Falcon, interested school alumni will uncover Tyrone earliest tradition in speech, via this 1915 yearbook entry, “On April 11, 1913, speech teams from Huntingdon met in Tyrone High’s Auditorium (then two years old) to debate this questions – Should the Panama Canal be fortified? Nothing in the history of the school ever aroused so much spirit as was shown that night by the students. For weeks, fans had been rehearsing cheers for the occasion as well as songs, written by some of the students. The judges rendered their decision in favor of the affirmative, and Tyrone had won the first interscholastic debate of its history.”
In another entry in Tyrone’s 1915 yearbook, we encounter these lines about the contagious enthusiasm for Tyrone’s first speech team, “Under the deepening shadow of World War I, on April 16, 1915, speech teams from Tyrone and Huntingdon debated this question in the Tyrone YMCA (then two years old) – Should the military forces of the United States be increased? The Tyrone High School auditorium did not prove large enough to accommodate the crowd. Arriving by train, Huntingdon brought with her a following of nigh onto 200 students and townspeople. Because Huntingdon lacked fire in debate rebuttals, the decision of the judges spelled defeat for them and victory for Tyrone.
Merryman emphasized that 90 years ago, in Tyrone’s first 1915 yearbook, the long gone members of Tyrone’s first speech team gave voice to this daring dream, “It is to be hoped that Tyrone will be as successful in the future in speech as she has been in the past, and that students will never let public speaking disappear from Tyrone High School as a real school sport.
With the dedication and enthusiasm of coaches Sherri Crawford and Shane Cowher from Juniata Valley, Regina Hicks from Southern Huntingdon and Elisabeth McMullin from Williamsburg High School, Tyrone speech coach Richard Merryman contends that the art of public speaking seems destined to remain a real school sport at these four rural Pennsylvania high schools for years to come.