Speech is more than just words

The Speech & Acting Team fosters a love of speaking and self confidence

Rylee Johnson, Staff Writer

Speech is more than just words. That sentence alone seems pretty explanatory, but the reality is much more intricate. Through public speaking and performing, hundreds of competitors around the nation have found community, compassion, and confidence in this activity and in themselves. The HEHS Speech & Acting team knows this well.

In Hoffman’s personal history, the current head coach of the team was also a former speechie at Hoffman. Naz Ahmed, English department, is a living breathing byproduct of how speech can transform a life. She believes the speech experience can foster more than just speaking skills. 

“Attaining self confidence. High school is a really weird time where kids often hesitate to do more, and I feel that Speech gives students the opportunity to see just how much they are capable of,” said Ahmed.

Getting involved in extracurricular activities is one of the best ways to break out of your shell. Yet, Speech has been seen to achieve this unlike any other. Many competitors will tell you their self image and sociability changed for the better once they joined.

“I’ve grown a lot and it feels deeper than it ever was. The way I articulate my words or change my tone is so specific now and I feel like that confidence shows in many different aspects,” said Gaurika Popli, junior. 

This is not something exclusive that only works for the extroverted and outgoing. The HEHS team is a mix of vibrant, reserved, and humorous students. Over the years, the Speech & Acting team has been quite divergent in personality, interests, and even cultures. The diversity in events and competitors alike is what makes this activity so unique.

“Other than public speaking, [Speech] showed me the real world. Our tournaments host up to 27 schools at a time and everyone has their own style and story. It’s a very holistic experience,” said Chittesh Saravanan, junior.

At Speech tournaments, a large student body attends, but the competition itself is very intimate. There are 14 events ranging from Poetry Reading to Dramatic Duet Acting; each event has its own round of six competitors.

In these rooms, you are able to watch characters and stories come alive or even learn something new. Seeing in depth performances like these can really change your perspective on the world around you in unexpected ways. The community is also known to be very welcoming and you’re able to make friends everywhere you go.

“It’s a lot more than talking. The reason I continued to compete after COVID wasn’t about my event, it was the people and the family that kept me together,” said Bhumi Pandhare, junior. 

Those you meet at tournaments scarcely compare to the friendships created right at home. People that seem to be complete opposites are able to find camaraderie in each other on the HEHS team. The memories made are experiences that truly last forever; however, memories are not the only things that stand the test of time beyond Speech & Acting. The coaches at Hoffman really hope that life long lessons can be attained as well.

“Coming out of the pandemic, I was able to see how resilient and hardworking students can be when they’re passionate about something,” said Ahmed. “With all the pressures of life they still came ready to work and persevere. I hope this year taught them that if you do this, with all the chaos going on in the world, you can do anything.”  

Many students at Hoffman have either not heard or not understood what the Speech & Acting team does. It is important to know that Speech or “Individual Events” is an official IHSA activity. The history dates back farther than you might believe and there are books, classes, and even scholarships dedicated to this event. 

But Speech is more than trophies, awards, and titles. At HEHS the Speech & Acting team has taught students they are strong enough to succeed and persevere through anything. It has taught them the world is a colorful place with colorful people. Most importantly, Speech has taught us that everyone has a story. It just takes a little time to tell it.