The road to nationals

Two SHS speech team members prepare to compete in Dallas

Sophomore Terry Tripp (left) and junior Alexa Haines are both preparing for the national competition in June. Tripp is competing in World School Debate, and Haines is competing in Programmed Oral Interpretation.

Hannah Garrett

Sophomore Terry Tripp (left) and junior Alexa Haines are both preparing for the national competition in June. Tripp is competing in World School Debate, and Haines is competing in Programmed Oral Interpretation.

Heart racing. Shaky hands. These are the physical symptoms that two members of the SHS Speech and Debate team will experience this on a much grander scale this June.

This June, junior Alexa Haines and sophomore Terry Tripp will be competing at Nationals for the first time in their high school careers. For SHS, this is the first time anyone from the team will be going to Nationals since 2015.

“It’s really neat,” Haines said thinking about going to Nationals for the first time. “I’m really honored to have that experience, but it’s a little bit stressful. I think ‘Oh my gosh, I’m really going.’”

Haines and Tripp will be going to Nationals in Dallas, Texas from June 18 to 21. According to Speech and Debate team Coach Sara Berghoff, it depends on if a student finds the right piece to perform at the right time for if they will go to Nationals or not.

Berghoff says that the team has a very talented group of members this year. She believes that they are very lucky Haines and Tripp were able to find the right pieces and events as a sophomore and junior because sometimes it can take years to find that for students and it sometimes doesn’t happen until the last minute.

“Sometimes, you spend four years with students trying to find that right thing for them and you don’t find it until the last minute,” Berghoff said. “This year we lucked out and found it because Lex is a junior and Terry’s a sophomore and to find what works best for them this early is fantastic.”

Haines is participating in an event called “Program Oral Interpretation,” which is an event where the speaker takes passages from books, poems or any outside source that can be used together to enhance the message the speaker is trying to give. According to Haines, her piece is overall about the Trail of Tears.

Haines chose this topic due to her Native American Ancestry on her father’s side. For as long as she can remember, Haines says that the biggest part of her life is her culture and spiritual beliefs.

“It’s been in my life for as long as I can remember, like the ceremonies and stuff and within the past couple of years I’ve been a lot more involved with it and it’s so important to me,” Haines said. “So I used that for a sort of foundation for my piece.”

To help offset the costs of going to nationals the SHS Speech and Debate Team organized a fundraiser. They currently have raised $1,460 on their One Cause page. $700 was donated by alumni Jason Kegerris who went to Nationals in Birmingham, Alabama in 2009.  Kegerreis wants other students to be able to experience Nationals as well.

“It’s my experience in life that life gives everybody equal amounts of talent but not equal amounts of opportunity,” Kegerreis said. “… I didn’t want to know that there were students who didn’t get to broaden themselves for reasons that are outside of their control.”

Kegerreis is one former student who was impacted by his time on the team. As he reflects back on his experiences with the team he can now see the benefits that it had on his life.

Kegerreis feels that he had an advantage over others in college due to the fact that it felt very natural to him to be able to take large amounts of information and break it down into three main points, just like he did on when he was on the team. He also uses his skills from speech in his everyday life while now currently being in the workforce.

According to Kegerreis, the number one fear that people have anxiety over is talking,  and the need for talking will never go away. Kegerreis believes that is better to learn to communicate and speak up in a controlled environment.

“The ability to communicate, the ability to analyze, to discuss ideas to understand things are critical for college and for adult life,” Kegerreis said. “I first got those skills in speech.”

Besides Kegerreis, other alumni have donated as well. According to Berghoff, it’s what keeps her going.

“Sometimes you don’t see the successes in the way that you want to see the successes,” Berghoff said. “But for that, for those former students to come back and say, ‘No, doing this meant something to me in my life and I want to help you guys so that you can keep paying that forward.’ It just really touched me and it just made me so happy.”