It's been a record setting year for the Detroit Lakes High School speech team, which will send three competitors and two alternates to the Minnesota State Speech Tournament next weekend.
"This is the most talented team I've worked with, and the most successful we've ever had," said DLHS English instructor Jennifer Burnside, who coaches the speech team.
The 21-member DL speech team placed fourth in the Section 8AA Tournament, held in Alexandria on Saturday, April 8.
"That's the highest we've placed as a team," Burnside said. "We've had a really good season -- the best ever."
The team placed second at its home tournament on March 18. The rest of the schedule was also packed with good showings, as the team took fifth in Fosston on Feb. 11, fourth in Moorhead on Feb. 17, fourth in Walker on Feb. 25 and third in Buffalo on March 4.
"We have our first competition in October, but the season really gets underway in January," Burnside said. "We have a competition virtually every Saturday from February through March."
Speech categories vary from the dramatic to the broadly humorous, and from interpretation of existing prose and poetry to creation of an original work.
"It's like individual theater... a play written for one person," Burnside said.
A total of 17 DL competitors attended the April 8 section meet in Alexandria. Of those, 15 advanced to semifinal competition, and five advanced to the final round.
Those who placed in the top three in their categories, thus earning a berth at state, were junior Whitney Westley, who placed third in the humorous category; junior Bethany Haugan, who placed second in storytelling; and junior Jamie Blackburn, who placed third in creative expression.
Alternates were senior Tierney Michon, who placed sixth in storytelling, and Lindsey Boller, who placed fifth in prose. A total of 384 students from 16 schools competed in the section meet.
Set for Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, at Bloomington Jefferson High School.
Blackburn said she's both excited, and nervous, about competing in her first state meet.
"I haven't seen the competition before," she said.
At season and section meets, the competitors are somewhat familiar, Westley explained.
"That's harder," she said, "but I'm not nervous. For me, it's like going to a comedy club and performing."
Though the season is nearly over for most of the DL team, Michon and Haugan may have one competition left after the state meet.
"Bethany and Tierney are alternates to the national tournament in duo," Burnside said.
In duo competition, teams of two orators are asked to memorize 15 different stories. At each competition, they draw a name from that list and have to retell the story in their own words, Burnside noted.
"It's difficult, but it's the most fun I've ever had," Michon said. "Storytelling is my favorite thing to do."
The national tournament is set to take place in Texas during the third week in June, Burnside said.