KELLOGG — A Kellogg High School trio will be taking their conversational skills on the road next month, as Dayton Wiksten, Shea Curran and Emma Miller head to Meridian High School for the State Speech Competition.
Curran is headed down after qualifying in the panel discussion, Miller in the impromptu category, and Wiksten for both panel and impromptu.
The district competition is a grueling multiple round affair where the participants must put their speaking ability to the test against subjective judges who score each round very differently.
The impromptu category is particularly challenging as the speakers are given a word, a quote, or a current event to choose from, then are given seven minutes to prepare and give a 2-4 minute speech.
Miller thrives in the impromptu category and using the abstract word despair, discussed how despair turned into unity following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Wiksten, the lone freshman of the group, had a similar experience, but his word was anxiety, so he dug into the works of his favorite philosopher to discuss how anxiety shapes individuality and freedom.
The panel discussion is similar to a debate, but is intended to avoid arguing.
Students are divided into groups and then one of five predetermined topics covering a myriad of differing subjects are selected for the discussion.
The goal of each discussion is to come to a general consensus on the subject.
Curran and Wiksten both found success in this category using differing methods: Curran, by maintaining and leading the conversation, and Wiksten by his ability to command a discussion with his captivating voice and relatively calm demeanor.
Wiksten is pleased to be going for two events, but believes his strength to be the impromptu.
“I think I do better at (impromptu) because I’m very good at just saying what I need to say,” Wiksten said. “I think I’m better at that, rather than a conversation.”
Curran, who at times struggled with dominating conversations due to her group’s seeming lack of willingness to get in the discussion, is looking forward to state competition simply because she wants to be engaged in the discussions by someone other than herself.
“I’m excited to go to state,” Curran said. “To be there with all the kids who qualified will mean that I get to have a real discussion, which really wasn’t what I got at districts.”
Miller is ready for the impromptu competition because she thrives on the randomness of it.
“Emma can talk about anything,” Curran said with a smile.
If Miller had her choice on what her topic could be, she was very particular in what her ideal concept would be.
“It would probably be a quote,” Miller said. “My favorite quote is, ‘doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.’ I love that quote and could probably go on forever about it.”
With no doubts in their minds and all the faith in the world, these three will head off to Meridian High School on April 12 for the two-day event.