Speech team to present great orations at fall competition

Preparing for competition
In a spirit of healthy competition, the members of Tyrone’s Speech Team surround the wooden statue of Tyrone’s Golden Eagle Mascot, donated to the school district by Tyrone’s award winning 1957 basketball team. Members of this year’s Speech Team are set to launch their 95th season of competition at Williamsburg High School this afternoon. To the left of the mascot, front row: Nicole Spangler, Jessica Berg and Morgan Decker. Second row: Charlene Adams and Marah Hawes. To the right of the mascot, front row: Grant Gonder, Athletic Director Tom Coleman and Speech Coach Richard Merryman. Second row: Nathan Kruis and Ryan Bressler. (The Daily Herald/Christina Pryor)

From 3:30 until 7:30 p.m. today, Tyrone High’s 95-year-old Speech Team will present several great orations from American and European history, at the Autumn Competition of the Central Pennsylvania Speech League, conducted at Williamsburg Community High School.
Junior Nathan Kruis will recall excerpts from three of Winston Churchill’s 1940 World War II Speeches. Each of these excerpts concludes with quotations that have become epigrams in the English language.
Among the excerpts Kruis will feature will include Churchill’s first speech to the British Parliament as World War II Prime Minister, when he cautioned, “I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, toil, and tears.” Also, Kruis will present Churchill’s tribute to the Royal Air Force. There, Churchill exclaimed, “Never in the field of human conflict have so many owed so much to so few!” Finally, Nathan will finish with Churchill’s inspiring oration which calls the British people to, “brace themselves to their duties, and so bear themselves that, if The British Empire last for a thousand years, men will still say of them – this was their finest hour!”
Junior Ryan Bressler will feature a Civil War Artifact dated July 14, 1861. In this artifact, a Civil War soldier named Sullivan wrote a poignant letter to his beloved wife Sarah. In that letter, Sullivan shared with his wife the grim necessity of mustering courage to fight in The Civil War for the ideals of his forefathers. Soldier Sullivan also admitted his concern that he may not survive these bloody battles, and thus leave his family fatherless. Nevertheless, he concluded his letter with the certainty that he, his two sons Edgar and Will, and his wife Sarah eventually would find themselves reunited in Eternity.
In authentic historic fashion, Freshman Morgan Decker will present Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Decker will present Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address exactly 145 years to the day that Lincoln delivered it on November 19, 1863, at the battle site where 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers had died on the first three days of July 1863. Decker will warn the audience and the judges that when Lincoln gave his address on that late November day in 1863, the landscape of Gettysburg was littered with the carcasses of rotting horses, still left unburied from the violent battles of the summer before. This newest recruit to Tyrone’s Speech Team also will note that President Lincoln was not considered the main speaker for the event. Orator Edward Everett of Harvard spoke from twelve o’clock until two o’clock. Then Lincoln arrived at the podium at two o’clock and spoke for two minutes. Yet Everett recognized the power of what Lincoln had said in his 262-word address when he shook The President’s hand and remarked, “Mr. President, I wish that I could flatter myself that I came as near to the mark in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
Sophomore Grant Gonder will recite from memory excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream Speech.” King gave this memorable speech forty five years ago in August 1963, to tens of thousands of civil rights marchers, on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D. C. In his history making oration, Dr. King called on America to become a land where “people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” In his speech introduction, Speech Team Sophomore Grant Gonder will reflect that Dr. King would consider much of his dream come true with the election of Barack Obama as America’s first African-American President.
Freshman newcomer to Tyrone’s Speech Team, Jessica Berg, will offer two classic poems wedded together by a common theme – roads. Berg will open with Victorian poet Christina Rossetti’s question and answer poem entitled “Uphill.”
Throughout this didactic poem, the narrator posed a question – “Does the road wind uphill all the way?” And then immediately answered that question –“Yes, to the very end.”
Following the Rossetti question and answer poem, Berg will turn to a fork in the road, created by American poet Robert Frost where, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler long I stood / And looked down one as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth.”
Freshman Nicole Spangler will look to the world of adolescence for her poetic inspiration. She will perform two ironic Mel Glenn poems entitled “Leigh Hamilton” and “Danielle O”Mara.” These two contemporary poems narrate the life of a teenage girl named Hamilton who has every detail of her wedding planned out, with one small exception – she has no idea who the groom will be! The second poem describes the adventure of an Irish girl christened O’Mara. The girl cooked a horrible meal for her sister’s boyfriend, causing him never to return for another meal or for a date.
Junior Marah Hawes will draw on poetry from a book entitled Chicken Soup For The Soul for her performance poem. Entitled, “When We Risk It All” by Kristy Glassen, these contemporary poetic lyrics offered stern warnings to listeners about love. They claimed that love can dwindle away, or give someone a broken heart. Yet the narrator in this poem about love closed by insisting that this emotion, with all of its terrible pain, still proved worth the risk.
Charlene Adams will read an original poem that she authored herself. Entitled “I Lied,” Adams portrayed a basically arrogant person in the poem, who denied any emotional concern for others. However, when the end came and she lost these loved ones forever, this arrogant narrator suddenly found herself drowning in tears of regret.
The Autumn Speech Competition at Williamsburg Area High School will commence at 3:30 p.m.. and close around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Approximately 40 student speakers from Central, Juniata Valley, Tyrone, Southern Huntingdon, and Williamsburg High Schools will compete in two separate rounds of performances, in high school classrooms, in front of two different sets of speech competition judges. The two different sets of judges will evaluate each student speaker using these ten oratorical standards: 1) voice volume, 2) voice speed, 3) voice expression, 4) appearance and dress, 5) evidence of understanding the presented selection, 6) word pronunciation, 7) appropriate gestures, 8 ) eye contact, 9) level of difficulty of presented selection, 10) overall oratorical performance.
At the close of the two rounds of competition, Williamsburg Area High School will host all of the student speakers, the judges, the coaches, and the bus drivers in a light luncheon in The Williamsburg High School Cafeteria. When the luncheon concludes, coaches will award plaques to the winners in each category, and certificates of outstanding, excellent, good, and fair to all participants. If time permits, the outstanding speakers in each category will present their selections to the audience, so that all the students will gain some insight into what constitutes a winning oratorical presentation.
In reflecting on the opening Autumn Speech Competition for this 2008—2009 School Term, Tyrone Speech Coach and Ninth Grade English Teacher Richard Merryman offered these remarks.
“Certainly, we are glad that we have a number of great Tyrone speakers from Tyrone’s Junior and Sophomore classes who once again have decided to participate on the Speech Team this year. We also take great pride in the fact that Jessica Berg, Morgan Decker, and Nicole Spangler have decided to join the Speech Team as ninth graders. We hope to have them around in the years to come.”
In closing, Merryman also reminded the citizens of Tyrone of the distinguished history of Tyrone’s Speech Team.
Concluded Merryman, “The Speech Team takes great pride in the fact that we have been around for 95 years, since 1913, when the team was organized by High School Principal John Gaunt, and included Tyrone’s budding musician Frederick Waring and teacher Ralph Wolfgang. In the beginning, before Football, Basketball, Wrestling, Baseball, Track, and Band, was The Speech Team. One Tyrone yearbook even noted that The Pennsylvania Railroad had to add an extra passenger car to accommodate all the Tyrone fans who wanted to travel to Huntingdon to see The Speech Team compete in 1914.
“These days, this oldest team at Tyrone High has to compete with a host of other athletic teams for Tyrone students’ attention. Nevertheless, we rejoice that our team still has some highly capable speakers, who decide to represent their school in this great verbal sport. And best of all, we rejoice that The Speech Team has its own athletic mascot in our great Golden Eagle Athletic Director Thomas L. Coleman. Right now, we include A. D. Coleman in all of our Speech Team pictures. In the future, we want to include him in yearly competitions, in the hope that someday, Mr. Coleman might refine his speaking skills enough to become President Of The United States, or at the very least – Mayor Of Tyrone!”

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