PV Speech Team Qualifies Nine Events to State


Josh Thomas

The cast of Antigone (directed by Jae Jepsen) gave a home performance at PV’s Speech Showcase Night.

Josh Thomas , Copy Editor

Early in the morning on Jan. 21, the Pleasant Valley Speech team made the 80-minute journey to Monticello High School to compete in the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Southeast Large Group District competition. 

Pleasant Valley’s four improv teams competed well. The unnamed freshman team (with members Cate Bestold, Aisha Marrar and Cooper Olderog) received a Division I rating. WACIT (with members Sophia Pomykala, Charles Budan, Olderog and Kylie Brees) received a Division I rating, and Kakistocracy (with members Arissa Khan, Lexi Pelzer, Zach Guest and Ryan Sondgeroth) also received a Division I rating. Hattrick (with members Braeden Jackson, Miranda Croll and Caleb Swinney) also participated, receiving a Division II rating.

Director Keira Bowman and Assistant Director Selah DeVore conveyed themes of power and elevation in their version of a scene from the Greek play “Antigone.” Stars Pratima Khatri, Ruby Headley, Carly Berta, Heidi Cannon, Joshua Nelson and Cooper Swihart were all awarded a Division I rating for their performance.

Director Pelzer guided Tommy Glennon, Ava Burmahl, Swinney and Hernandez to a Division I rating for their staging of a scene from the musical Hadestown.

The musical theater duo Zach Guest and Leah Mendelin obtained a Division I rating for their performance of the song “I Love the Way” from the musical Something Rotten. Jackson and Elly Huhn secured the same rating by performing the song “Dangerous Game” from the musical Jekyll & Hyde.

Director Bella Hernandez was presented with a Division I rating for her execution of the short play Fugue, along with performers Bowman, Pomykala, Ryan Pottratz and Jae Jepsen.

Stanley Hall and Budan’s delivery of a scene from the play Red earned them a Division I rating. Jillian Garris’ original short film also obtained a Division II rating.

Director Jepsen and Assistant Director Pomykala led a rendition of “Who Am I This Time?” Actors Olderog, Eva Vargas, Marrar, Brenna France, Emma Whitten, Mimi Ramirez, Bestold, Asmita Bag and Mya Vargas all received a Division II rating for their performance.

Whitney Cozad and Vargas earned a Division II rating for their cover of “Come to Your Senses,” a song from the musical Tick, Tick… Boom! 

All these performances add up to qualify nine out of thirteen teams to the state competition, but many members of the program value the journey over the destination. “The hardest for me as a coach is that… students work for Division I’s and not everyone can get a Division I,” shared Pleasant Valley Speech Coach Christina Myatt.

“But what the ratings don’t take into account is the growth that we see with students. Students who have never been on stage before get an opportunity to do something in a smaller group. Students who have different anxieties that they’re dealing with are able to overcome those… which then puts them on a new path… as they move forward,” Myatt continued.

Senior Leah Mendelin also believes in the positive impact of speech. “Speech has been one of my favorite high school experiences. To work closely with speech ensemble is such a fun way for students to express our creativity, try new things, and find inspiration with each other,” Mendelin stated.“I’ve done group speech for the past 3 years and each time I’ve learned so much from my mentors and peers about performance.”

The team is expecting an even better performance at the IHSSA Large Group state competition on Feb. 4. “[Districts] is nice because it gives the students some opportunity to get some feedback… and then we get to see how they incorporate that feedback into what they do at the state level to make their performances even better,”  Myatt revealed.“There’s still the opportunity for continued growth and it’s neat seeing how those external factors and another set of eyes will then influence what they do as we perform.”