Speech is a competitive activity which encourages learning the art of public speaking. In addition to public speaking, the activity also includes analysis, performance, research, writing, leadership, creativity, and listening. Although competitive, it is an activity which is educational and as much about personal growth and achievement as it is about competition.
The St. Peter Speech program has a long tradition of success. Fourteen St. Peter students have been State Champions, the 8th most of any school in Minnesota. St. Peter routinely finishes in the top two or three of each tournaments, sub-sections and sections. St. Peter is a member of both the National Forensics League and the National Junior Forensics League. Members of the speech team are also members of these organizations and earn career points. The full description of the speech program is available in the St. Peter Speech Handbook.
There are two basic general categories of speech, Public Speaking and Interpretive. Full descriptions of the 13 competitive categories can be found in the Rules of the Minnesota State High School League or in the St. Peter Judge’s Handbook.
Public Speaking events are those that are based on conveying facts or information. They teach or convince the listener about a topic and are written for the most part by the student.
Interpretive Events are designed to have to speaker convey moods or emotions to the audience from a piece of literature.
While the coaches will provide direction and make the final decision as to the category and piece for each student, the students are involved in the selection of their category and their piece. Younger students will receive considerable guidance and assistance from their individual coach. Veteran students such as juniors and seniors are expected to be responsible for script selection and editing.
At a typical meet, students compete in three rounds at each tournament. At the end of three rounds, the top six to eight competitors meet in a finals round for each category to determine the tournament champions. After each round, each student receives a judge’s critiques with suggestions relating to the strength and weaknesses of each student’s performance in that round. This individual feedback provides the basis for improvement before the next tournament.
Good judges are critical to a successful season for our students. All judges that work for St. Peter are required to use the Judges Handbook as a basis for the criteria that are used. This document is adapted from Marshall High School Head Coach Rick Purrington’s Handbook developed for Eastview High School.
The St. Peter High School Speech Season Schedule remains relatively constant every year. The season consists of seven or eight meets that are held on Saturdays in February and March. While practices begin the first week in January, the team’s first meet of the season is in Belle Plaine on the first Saturday in February. Letter winners must participate in at least 2/3 of the meets during the season. In special situations, exceptional returning lettermen who are ready in January may be invited to the Schwan’s High School Tournament in January.
The Junior High Speech Season is usually three to four meets that occur after school during February and March, usually on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. These dates are not as fixed because of the relative newness of these programs and conflicts with other activities in the participating schools. These tournaments will be scheduled during the fall after the Minnesota Speech Coaches Association Conference. Most students in grades 7-9 compete with the varsity team on Saturday’s as well as the Junior High Meets. Middle school students are not required to participate in the varsity meets but are welcome to do so.