HEHS speech team’s journey leads to state competition


Fenella Cassandra Ibias, Staff Writer

Passion is one of the most beautiful things life has to offer. In fact, individuals may never really know themselves until they start developing one of their passions.

Writing, painting, singing, and dancing are just a few examples out of many. When it comes to pursuing a passion, it may be difficult at times to gain recognition or be appreciated for the things you do, especially if you’re just another student in another high school.

Senior Sarah Hazenfield’s passion for performing, public speaking, and writing, and her hard work as a member of the speech team helped secure a spot at the state tournament.  

The competition was a lot of fun this weekend! The school and my coaches created a lot of pomp and circumstance leading up to it, which made the experience very special. It was nerve-wracking but neat to compete against so many wonderful speakers,” said Hazenfield. 

It seems that team spirit was a major factor of Hazenfield’s hard-earned success. “It made me realize how much of a team event speech is,” said Natalia Shields, sophomore. “Although it’s just you performing, you wouldn’t be standing up there without the countless supporters who’ve listened to you perform or read your piece.”

Senior Jon Charoenkul agrees, adding insight on the individual experiences and growth that he had witnessed in his fellow teammates as one of the team’s captains.

“Every single person has shown growth in their skill and talent, and that’s extremely important not only for competitive success, but also in furthering personal goals and developing important parts of ourselves and our identity,” said Charoenkul. “I’m especially proud of our freshmen, who haven’t even had the opportunity to have a normal high school year in general but have shown promising growth and success on top of that.”

Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 had hindered the team’s ability to have a normal season in-person. Coach Grapenthin once shared this concern, but after listening to a few ideas and conversations, everything was quick to fall into place.

“I, along with the other coaches, was helping figure out HOW ON EARTH we would manage to have a speech season with all of the unknowns brought on by this pandemic,” she said. “With a lot of brainstorming, schedule adjustments, technology navigation, and more, we got into the groove of managing a near virtual-season.” 

When asked how the coaches navigated the pandemic, Coach Loughin-Vance had the perfect response. “The coaches worked hard to keep the camaraderie and fun that comes along with speech and we found new ways to celebrate like weekly JibJab videos for tournament finalists, Instagram fun (@hehs.speech), and team bonding and peer coaching online.”

Sophomore Dominic Luzwick is a firm believer that everything–all the fuss, conversations, and planning–was all worth it in the end. “I think we gave it our all and I am so proud of everyone. We pushed past the [challenges] and did what we love.”

Before the results are revealed, it’s important to acknowledge the long journey our Speech Team tackled leading up to the big tournament. “As a team, we were the team champions for our regional, which last occurred in 2010; we had tournament champions in 5 events, and qualified 14 events into sectionals,” said Coach Ahn.  

Now, time for the big reveal: where did Hazenfield place in her event?

“I placed 8th in the state, which was frustrating at first because the top 7 got to go on to final rounds,” she said. “But after taking a step back, I was so honored and grateful to have that ranking, realizing that I had to beat out hundreds of competitors to get my rank. This will definitely be a season to remember.”