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TAHS speech team set for winter competition

TAHS Speech Team Following last Friday afternoon’s rehearsal for their February 21, 2008 Winter Speech Convocation at nearby Juniata Valley High School, as a show of Esprit de corps, the Tyrone Speech Team gathered round the wooden Golden Eagle, located in the athletic office lobby and donated to the school by the seniors on Tyrone’s 1957 basketball team. Ninety-five years after its creation in 1913, Tyrone’s speech team consists of these participants, from left: Coach Merryman, Grant Gonder, D.J. Cherry, Adam Stager, Marah Hawes, Jessica Thomas, Taylor Patton, Nathan Kruis, Ryan Bressler and Tyler Vasbinder. (The Daily Herald/Amanda Golden)

On Thursday afternoon, February 21, from 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., Tyrone High’s Speech Team will compete with three other schools in the Winter Convocation of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League, held this season at Juniata Valley High School, in nearby Alexandria.
Since this Winter Speech Convocation 2008 occurs in February, many of the 12 members of Tyrone’s oratorical team have chosen to perform poetry and prose related to February holidays – including Lincoln’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day, as well as Black History Month.
To celebrate the 199th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1809, Tyrone team member Ryan Bressler will perform Lincoln’s favorite poem, entitled “Mortality,” by a Scottish poet named William Knox. President Lincoln loved Knox’s 56-line poem because it reminded him that all people should live out their lives in humility, since “the paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Tenth grader Adam Stager will echo Bressler’s Lincoln legacy by performing Walt Whitman’s eloquent elegy about the death of Lincoln called, “O Captain! My Captain!”
To commemorate Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14, Tyrone 9th grader Taylor Patton will re-enact two American love poems at the Winter speech competition. First, Patton will render Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet’s sonnet entitled “To My Dear and Loving Husband.” Next, Patton will follow that Puritan poem with romantic lyrics by the Civil War poet Emily Dickinson entitled, “If You Were Coming in the Fall.”
Tyrone sophomore Nathan Kruis will recognize Black History Month when he orally interprets selected excerpts from Martin Luther King’s powerful “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered by King in front of the Lincoln Memorial to an audience of 50,000 Civil Rights advocates in August of 1963. Charlene Wilson Adams will echo the theme of Black History Month when she renders a poem she created herself which encourages racial tolerance and is entitled, “The Message Overall.”
In addition to Ryan Bressler, Adam Stager, Taylor Patton, Nathan Kruis, and Charlene Adams, these other Tyrone student speakers also will perform at the Winter Speech Convocation: Joshua Bradley, Grant Gonder, Marah Hawes, Brittany Hosband, Brandon Parks, Jessica Thomas, and Tyler Vasbinder. Approximately 50 students from Juniata Valley, Southern Huntingdon, Tyrone, and Williamsburg High School will participate in this Winter Convocation of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League. With coaches Sherry Crawford (Juniata Valley), Regina Hicks (Southern Huntingdon), Richard Merryman (Tyrone), and Elizabeth McMullen (Williamsburg), this speech league has existed for 22 years – since 1986.
As in past speech competitions, all students will perform twice and have evaluations from two different adult judges. Judges will classify speakers as Outstanding, Excellent, Good, and Fair in these four categories of performance: The Speaker’s Introduction, Speaker’s Content, Speaker’s Voice, and Speaker’s Appearance.
After each student has performed two times for two separate judges, everyone will adjourn to the high school cafeteria for a light dinner, sponsored free of charge by the Juniata Valley Speech Team. At the close of dinner, all student speakers will receive a participation certificate, and all award winners will receive an engraved plaque.
Tyrone Coach Richard Merryman made this observation, “Each time that our students prepare for one of their competitions, I tell them that they stand as members of the oldest team at Tyrone High. I remind them that they follow in a speech tradition which has flourished at Tyrone High for 95 years – since 1913!”
“Furthermore, even as the long gone students from the Tyrone Speech Team of 1914 used their rhetorical skills to argue their positions about the expanding American military in the wake of World War I, so do modern day Tyrone students use their speech skills to comment on historical personalities, such as Abraham Lincoln, or historical events, such as Black History Month. And whether debating the size of the World War I American military or today’s Black History Month, both speech activities serve the same goal – to inspire Tyrone students to live, and move, and speak up as informed citizens in this great democracy we call America!”