Saturday, December 13, 2008

Speech This!

As some of you may know, today was D-Day in Ginger Land. Or I guess S-Day since today was the day of the speech meet I have been organizing for the past several weeks. My team and I played host to 12 different schools from all over West Central Illinois. Over the course of the past several days, my kids have really shown me again and again what great people they are. There were the girls who gave up every lunch period for two weeks to spend in my room designing and coloring posters for the event finals. (And I should probably mention that one of them isn't even ON the team) Our theme was "Just Off Broadway" (since our school is located just one block off Broadway), and so they turned every event into a Broadway show logo. Extemporaneous Speaking (known in the speech world as "extemp") became "Little Shop of Extemp" complete with a completely faithful rendition of Audrey II in the corner. Impromptu Speaking became "Phantom of the Impromptu." Some events just had their names done in the lettering of famous Broadway shows -- like "humorous interp" spelled out like Hairspray or "Prose" in the Rent lettering. I had a classroom full of kids last night after school setting up rooms, assembling schedules, stuffing envelopes. I had kids tonight doing dishes and picking up trash. They are just awesome, awesome kids, and their passion and devotion is a driving force in my own passion and devotion to my job. They make my job rock!

Running a speech meet is pretty tough work. I was prepared for some but not all of it. I didn't anticipate the constant questions (people cannot problem solve on their own!) or little issues to deal with. I felt bad neglecting my kids all day while I tabulated results from the rounds. I learned a lot and know what needs to be tweaked for next year.

Of course, I'm sure you're all dying to know how my kids did. Well, pretty darn well. We had a representative from our team in every single event finals (there are 13 total). Not every kid broke into finals, but some that hadn't yet this year did and were over the moon. (I had two girls come bursting into the tab room to tell me they'd both broken in Poetry Reading -- and I had to patiently remind them that I already knew since I was the one who tabbed the results and made the poster telling them they had broken.) Some of the "friends" you know from this blog had great days. Unfortunately, our buddy Emily was not one of them, but she did the best she'd ever done before, so we take our victories where we can.

Rachel (my Super AD) broke into finals in both of her events. While she did not win, she was very happy and received some 1st's and 2nd's in prelims to get her into finals, which thrilled her.

Jodi, my homeless student, also broke into finals -- a huge triumph for her. Her nerves seemed to get the best of her, and she placed 6th out of 6 in finals, but she is making progress and we'll whip those nerves into shape!

Katrina, my very sweet and humble superstar, placed first in her event -- and was shocked. She legitimately has no idea how talented she is.

Harper, my fiery co-captain senior feminist, struggled all week to get her DDA (Dramatic Duet Acting) partner Ethan to come to practice. She was close to "firing" him. I asked her to give him one more chance. They were tournament champions in their event today.

And then there's Marcel, my Belgian exchange student. He is very bright, speaks very good English that's heavily accented but understandable, struggles a little with comprehension, and has theatre experience from Belgium. He came to me earlier this fall and said he really wanted to join the team. When he looked over the events, he decided he really wanted to do Original Comedy (where participants write and perform their own comic monologue/performance). For our first tournament, he was not ready to perform and so I had him come with to watch the event and get a feel for what he was getting himself into. For the past couple weeks, he's been practicing his piece with me -- a very funny "outsider's look" at America. (His segment on his first encounter with Jello makes me nearly pee my pants with laughter every time!) He made his debut in the event today. He went in already guaranteed a medal since the low numbers made the event go straight to finals. Not only did Marcel medal, but he WON FIRST PLACE! One judge even complimented him on "keeping his accent." HA!

In the end, the kids chose not to make the team eligible for the "team sweeps" award because they thought it was ingracious as hosts to win our own tournament. They sort of changed their minds after the awards ceremony when I revealed to them that we WOULD have won first place -- beating two of the schools that we've always considered "untouchable." But they reasoned that they can still say they won; they just didn't get a trophy to gather dust in a trophy cabinet somewhere in the school.

So now my life returns back to normal -- although as I sit here in my living room I realize that I have done no Christmas shopping, no grocery shopping, no laundry in a week (and last week's clean laundry is still in the hamper), and no cleaning. Le sigh!!!


Danielle Mari said...

Huzzah hurray and congrats! Wonderful work! And how awesome that your kids even gave up their trophy in the name of "bad form." Kudos, Melsy.

Peter said...

The Force is Always with You.
Bravo to you all!

Jen said...

Congratulations! I'm impressed by your kids' sense of sportsmanship and by your instincts in guiding them. They've achieved something far more important than a trophy. Now good luck with the laundry, etc. I feel your pain.

Cline said...

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