On the afternoon of Thursday, February 21, at Juniata Valley High School in nearby Alexandria, sophomore track athlete Nathan Kruis won first place in the winter competition of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League.
Kruis scored 60 points out of 60 points in two separate rounds of oratorical competition to walk away with the contest nomination of best overall speaker among the four competing schools – Juniata Valley, Southern Huntingdon, Tyrone, and Williamsburg.
A catered chicken and pork dinner and an awards ceremony in the Juniata Valley cafeteria followed the speech league’s winter competition.
Speech judges evaluated the students in four separate categories including: speaker’s introduction, speaker’s content, speaker’s voice, and speaker’s appearance. In front of two different judges, Kruis scored perfectly in all four categories. In commemoration of Black History Month, this Tyrone sophomore and cross country athlete performed excerpts from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Forty-five years ago in 1963, King delivered that speech to 50,000 Civil Rights advocates in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
In addition to Kruis, four other students from the Tyrone Speech Team competed in the 2008 winter competition at Juniata Valley. These students included Charlene Adams, Ryan Bressler, Grant Gonder, and Marah Hawes. Each of these students received a rating of excellent for their oral interpretations of poetry. Tyrone sophomore David Cherry also accompanied the Tyrone Speech Team to Juniata as a first time observer. Cherry plans to perform at the spring competition in April at Southern Huntingdon High School.
Tyrone speech coach and ninth grade English teacher Richard Merryman congratulated Kruis on his perfect score, as well as the other students on their star speech performances. Commented Merryman, “Nathan won a first place, because he selected King’s solid speech to perform and because he practiced regularly.”
“Nathan’s athletic prowess also assisted him in winning on the speech team. As one of Tyrone’s champion cross country runners, across the past several seasons, Nathan has developed the lung power which will allow him to triumph in track competition and also to project his voice with power and with confidence in speech team performances,” continued Merryman.
Concluded Merryman, “Reflecting on Nathan’s victory at the winter speech competition at Juniata Valley last Thursday evening, our minds flash back to Tyrone’s 1916 yearbook. In that 1916 Tyrone yearbook, called The Falcon, the reporter noted that on April 16, 1916, before hundreds of cheering spectators in Tyrone’s Y.M.C.A. auditorium, the three-year-old Tyrone Speech Team defeated the Huntingdon Speech Team on this debate question – ‘Should the military forces of the United States be increased?’”
“The 1916 Tyrone yearbook reporter concluded by saying that ‘it is hoped that Tyrone students never will let speaking and debating disappear from Tyrone High School as a real school sport,’” stated Merryman.
“With the assistance and encouragement of our present outstanding athletic coaches like Mr. Mark Mitchell and Mr. Thomas Coleman, many members of Tyrone’s 95-year-old speech team will continue to excel in oratory because of the lung power that athletics affords our student speakers, and because Tyrone’s athletic coaches encourage Tyrone students to view speech as a real sport,” ended Merryman.