On Saturday, Feb. 27, the Belle Plaine High School Speech Team competed in its third meet of the season.

The 10-person team has been practicing since January, with students picking out their dramatic monologues or historic speeches and perfecting them with Head Coach Maija Johnson before competitions began in February.

The students have 13 different speech categories to choose from, though most Belle Plaine students are focusing on "Draw," "Great Speeches," and "Dramatic Interpretation."

Students compete by delivering their speeches to an iPad or laptop live with judges and peers from other schools listening on the other end. Each student is alone in a room at Belle Plaine High School.

After each round, students come together to discuss what went well and what could be improved.

Sophomore Merrik Giesen competed in the “Dramatic Interpretation” category with a script from the play “Bright. Apple. Crush.”

“A lot of times people think they don't need speech. I think if you are serious about wanting to get a big role in a show, doing speech definitely helps with diction and emotion. It’s really important and helps with public speaking and getting over stage fright,” he said.

Coach Johnson said that although some students are missing the live interaction and audience connection that comes with a typical speech season, many are embracing the challenge of a new format.

“One thing I like about speech, in general, is it's an activity that really helps people as they become adults. You’re performing in front of somebody you don’t know, so it could help with getting a job or interviews or just talking to people you don’t know," she said. "I think even in that way the set up that we have is a new challenge for these kids that I think can be good,” she said.

Competitions will continue throughout March with the section competition taking place the second week of April.

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