Speech successful at state


Courtesy of Chuck Cavazos

Victory: From left to right, Megan Manoj, Emily Franke, and Kathryn Riopel after the award ceremony at the Peoria Civic Center

Tiffany Kajiwara, Online Editor

Three girls left Elk Grove with high hopes as they drove off to the Peoria for the IHSA Speech State Series. They came back with an amazing experience, fantastic memories, and a state champion.

Despite a difficult sectional with three state qualifying schools, the team did extraordinarily well.  Three competitors advanced to state. At this competition, junior Megan Manoj finished second in Oratorical Declamation, junior Emily Franke finished first in Prose Reading, and senior Kathryn Riopel also finished first in Special Occasion Speaking.

State took place on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Franke came especially close to making finals, missing a spot by just one point.  She still, however, ranked as the eighth highest prose reader in the state.

Chuck Cavazos, one of four Speech coaches, said, “There are maybe three hundred schools that start in the IHSA series in Speech, so to be in the top 10, that in itself is pretty remarkable.”

Franke said she particularly enjoyed the trip to Peoria because she was surrounded by great people and fantastic coaches. “Mrs. Kale’s a riot,” she reflected. Throughout the course of the entire season, she thought speech helped her grow because, “It lets you feel comfortable being yourself.”

After becoming this year’s sectional and regional champion, Riopel qualified for a second year in Special Occasion Speaking.

She stated that she felt she was “way more confident. Last year, I was really intimidated by everyone, which affected my performance.”

This year, Riopel finished in fifth place, improving upon her previous performance at this level.

“She’s always been remarkable and talented,” Cavazos said.

Megan Manoj became the State Champion with the Tedx talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” placing first in her final round. Considering Elk Grove has not had anyone win since 2009, the team felt the magnitude of this win.

Cavazos said she is “a great competitor. You can see just how much this meant to her, and every time she performs you can see that determination, that dedication in her eyes.”

Throughout the course of this year, Manoj said that she struggled with connecting with her piece, but she prevailed. “The underlying point that I’m realizing is that I’m trying to share a message. If you keep that, then you’re fine,” she said.

After winning, each of the state champions performs their piece at the awards ceremony. The ceremony stretches on for hours with 14 winners performing an approximately eight minute speech.

With a successful season now completed, Cavazos said that the team will not be meeting for a while, but they will resume meeting in the spring to prepare for next year.

Reflecting on the previous season’s wins and losses, he felt conflicted, commenting “to say I’m incredibly proud would be an understatement, but at the same time I wanted each kid to be a state champion. So you balance your pride in how your students did with knowing Kathryn and Emily gave it one hundred percent.”