Speech gives students valuable public speaking experience

Speech gives students valuable public speaking experience
Posted on 02/24/2023
Ayaprun Elitnaurvik students take 1st-3rd place in the Yupik Expository categoryA speech competition, at its core, is about public speaking. It involves a presentation by one or two students, which is judged against a similar type of presentation by others. Students are judged based on things like eye contact and enunciation. 

But beyond the basics, the competition is about a lot more than a presentation - it’s months of research and practice to overcome nervousness, and it’s honing a lifelong skill. Often, it even entails inspiring others to try the same.

“[The Akiuk team has] been amazingly supportive of each other, and form a great, cohesive, and supportive trio,” said Thomas Marcotte, speech coach in Akiuk. “All three of my students have been pushing themselves to succeed, putting in the hours to refine their speeches, and that dedication has paid off. It’s really rewarding to see them succeed.” 

Originally, students planned to fly from village sites to compete at Bethel Regional High School for the district speech competition earlier this month. But due to inclement weather they competed remotely over Zoom a week later. 

“The extra week of practice definitely helped us out here,” said Marcotte. “I’m really proud of how well the Akiuk team did—all three of our speakers won first or second in their category, meaning that they move onto the statewide competition.” 

Speech contestants in Anchorage
Photo credit: BRHS 

LKSD speech contestants in Anchorage.

Speech categories include humorous, dramatic, original and composition. Because LKSD focuses on bilingual education, at the district level there is a category for students who wish to give a speech in Yugtun as well as English.

When it comes to subject matter, student selections are broad with some writing their own speeches, while others choose to use published material. 

“For example, one of my students did the original composition category and wrote a testimonial about her memories of her grandmothers, while my student in the humorous interpretation category recited ‘Fox in Socks,’” said Marcotte.

For Justine Erickson-Bradney, a freshman from BRHS, her career ambition is to be a veterinarian so she chose to pursue a speech about the Iditarod. 

“When I have a good topic, I’m passionate about it and I want to talk about it and let other people know about it,” she said. “I had previously written a paper for school about the Iditarod and I found that the veterinarian role was interesting, and I wanted to build more on that.”

Usually preparation for the competition consists of rehearsing the speeches, practicing posture, timing, and eye contact, and developing the confidence to overcome the self-consciousness that comes from putting yourself out there to compete.

“If you’re going to do Speech, you can’t just write your speech and then leave it. You have to review it a lot,” Erickson-Bradney said. “It’s essential to be able to memorize it enough to be able to keep eye contact with the audience.”

The statewide competition will be held in Anchorage on February 24–26.

AE Students win at speechPhoto credit: Ayaprun Elitnaurvik 

Students from Ayaprun Elitnaurvik placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Yupik Expository category. 
1st- Ayagina’ar Kade Latham
2nd- Igvaq Paula Jung
3rd- Cakiller Lynette Gilbert
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