PV students perform at all-state speech, ending drought


Christina Myatt via PV Spartan Drama

For the first time since 2020, Pleasant Valley sends a group of students to perform their events at the IHSSA All State Festival. Their hard work and dedication has paid off in the final stage of speech season as they travel to Ames to show off their hard work.

Arissa Khan , Opinon editor

At Pleasant Valley, students are always encouraged to go the extra mile in their academics, athletics and artistic endeavors. While academic and athletic achievements routinely take the spotlight, the arts are often swept under the rug. 

The Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) holds a competition each winter in which students from across the state can compete in various performance disciplines. From mime to musical theater, short films to one act, students submit events to be judged on a four point scale. The goal of the competition is to receive feedback from judges and advance to the next round. The competition begins at the district level, then progresses to state if they receive a division one. Finally, students may be nominated for All State either for performing or non-performing roles, based on their demonstrated skill level and potential evaluated by three division one ratings from state judges.

One PV student has gone much further than the extra mile, triumphing in both of his fields as a performer. 

Pleasant Valley Junior Zack Guest has been given the honor of performing both of his events at the IHSSA’s All-State Festival. Guest submitted a musical theater and improv performances, both of which received three division ones from judges, a tremendous feat. 

Students began rehearsing their events in early December and are recommended to do a great deal of individual rehearsals if they want to succeed. Leadership and discipline, as well as openness to constructive criticism, are what allowed Guest to reach this goal.

Guest has been involved with theater since elementary school, where he set goals for himself early on. “I liked watching all of my siblings do theater and choir, so it encouraged me to set goals for myself and continue doing it throughout high school.” Attending the Spartan Summer Theater camps helped him to find his interests early on

Being enrolled in multiple challenging courses and an All State choir member two years in a row, Guest has had to balance his academic and extracurricular activities in order to succeed in both. In order to find this balance, he works on fitting school work into show schedules, and keeping his physical and mental health at the forefront while prioritizing.

Senior Leah Mendelin partnered with Guest for their musical theater performance. Also an honors student, Mendelin has exhibited great talent and work ethic in both her academics and activities. “Working with Zack for the second year has been so much and I’m glad I could do it one more time before graduating. It’s a lot of work though, and at our school speech is very student-directed, so we’ve had to create our own rehearsal schedules and set deadlines.” Mendelin also works on prioritizing her mental and physical health, as she believes her confidence greatly affects her performance.

In addition to his musical theater performance, Guest performed an improvisational acting scene with varsity improv team Kakistocracy. 

The festival was held at Iowa State University, and invited students from across the state to showcase their performances and learn from each other. “My favorite part of speech has been being able to hang out with my friends during the events, and seeing different schools from all over the state perform. It helped me expose myself to different ideas that I hadn’t thought of, and inspired me to do better overall,” Guest continues.

In the future, he hopes to continue to keep theater in his life with either a performance degree or continuing to participate in community theater productions after high school. 

The 2022-2023 Large Group Speech season has come to a triumphant end for Pleasant Valley students. The drama club now turns their attention to Individual Speech and their upcoming show “Murder on the Orient Express.” They are incredibly proud of Guest and his team mates for making it so far in the competition, and look forward to their next performance.