Speech Success


The GHS speech team is successfully making their way through another great season. After their meet in Rock Falls, the team is shown smiling for a group picture while showing off their awards. “ I feel like it’s been a pretty good season so far,” said Emma Blaum ‘24. “The team overall has been doing a really good job and I have high hopes for the rest of the season.”

The GHS speech team successfully made their way through the season. The team competed in seven tournaments between December and January.
Every Saturday the team traveled to a different school to compete in a meet with other schools in northwest Illinois. At the meets, there are a total of 14 categories to compete in. At the beginning of the season, each student chooses what category they want to compete in and they are either given a speech or write one depending on what category they are in.
“Because there is such a wide range of events, usually we can find one that fits the speaker’s personality,” said speech coach, Susan Bookless. “I’ve been doing this so long that when a kid shows up for the first team meeting, I usually know what event they would be great in.”
Some of the categories that the GHS team competes in are radio speaking, oratorical declamation, prose, poetry, dramatic interpretation, original oratory, and humorous interpretation. In categories like poetry and prose, competitors don’t have to memorize their speech and are allowed a script while they speak.
In the other categories, the rules state that students have their speeches memorized and perfected. In some categories such as radio speaking competitors don’t know what their material is until 45 minutes before they speak.
”Radio speaking is a unique speech category,” said Chase Dittmar ‘23. “Even though it is difficult at times it is also fun, you get to pretend to be a radio announcer.”
The GHS speech team has achieved many accomplishments over the season including many placing in the top three. Frequent top three scorers include Oliver Ortega ‘23, Emma Blaum ‘24, Cael Ozee ‘25, and Lilliana Asta ‘26. The team as a whole also placed in the top five in the last three meets.
“I feel like the team has been doing surprisingly well this year,” said Everett Noble ‘26. “A lot of our team members have placed which looks good especially at regionals.”
Some team members were also awarded Pirate Competitor of the Week. On January 9, 2023 members Ortega, Asta, and Blaum were all named Pirate Competitors of the Week.
“These three students work very hard to be the best they can,” said Bookless. “Oliver and Lilliana are new to the team this year and Emma is the team captain. They are definitely setting the standard for a great speech team at GHS.”
As new members of the team Ortega and Asta have been learning as they compete, and seeing some great successes. “To me winning wasn’t about the award itself,” said Ortega. “It’s about the experience and the recognition given to the hard-working members of the speech team.”
Also awarded as a Pirate Competitor of the Week was Ozee on January 23, 2023. “I’m glad to receive this title,” said Ozee. “I hope that other teammates get this reward in the near future, as I feel they truly deserve it.”
In the last few weeks of the seasons the team went on to regionals in Freeport where Blaum advanced in Radio Speaking and Oratorical Declamation and Julia Dominiak ‘25 advanced in Original Oratory. The two competitors then went onto sectionals in DeKalb where Blaum qualified to compete at the state tournament in Oratorical Declamation. State was held at the Peoria Civic center where Blaum placed 10th out of 18 ending off another great speech season.