Fort Dodge Senior High will compete Saturday at the Iowa High School Speech Association Individual Speech Contest. Taking place at Bishop-Garrigan High School in Algona, 15 FDSH students will participate in the contest.
"We're competing in approximately 22 events," Lindey Krug, speech coach, said. "Each student has at least one, and there are some students who have two."
Preparation takes place all year long, Krug said.
"I'm lucky that I have kids who are pretty dedicated, and spend a lot of time working on their own," she said. "I try to give each kid at least a half an hour of my time each week. When you have 22 kids and all that has to happen after school, that can add up over time. It can be kind of extensive."
In competition, each student individually competes for a rating.
"It's either I, II or III," Krug said. "A one means they qualified for state competition in two weeks. I'm hoping for ones."
When coaching students, Krug said there is a different focus for every category.
"There are some categories that are acting, some that are oral interpretation of literature. There are some categories that involve writing their own speeches, categories like radio news or improv where they're given information on the spot and have to produce a news broadcast or do an improvisational scene," she said. "With each of those different categories comes a different way of coaching."
The emphasis, though, is always the message.
"Many of the times I talk to the kids about the message they want to communicate," Krug said, "whether that's in acting or radio news or improvisation. What is the message you want to get across to an audience and how do you do that effectively?"
Krug herself competed in speech in high school and judged competitions in college. She has been coaching for eight years. This year is her first at FDSH.
"I love speech. It's one of my favorite activities to be a part of," she said. "It's very inclusive. Kids from all walks of life join speech. When you think about labels and kids labeling each other, all of those cliques are all there and they all get along. It's like one big happy family. It's awesome."
According to Krug, speech as an academic course provides a valuable life skill for its students.
"The biggest thing is the ability to communicate well," she said. "In this day and age, when we hide behind technology to communicate, we don't necessarily know how to interpret a message with vocal variation because we don't hear as much as we used to. We read everything as a text message or email, so being able to interpret messages and being able to effectively communicate your own message takes skill."
The course also provides students with confidence.
"A lot of times, most kids, they're not comfortable speaking in front of a group of people or even a couple of people," Krug said. "Being a part of this particular program helps them build that self confidence."
Krug said she is optimistic about Saturday.
"I don't have any predictions at this point," she said, "but I think we'll fare very well."