Tyrone Speech Team Wins Winter Meet


Leah Deskavich

Right to left upper row: Gabriella Hoffman, Ashlynn Mckinney, Laci Daniels, Alysa Wheland, Mario Grugan Lower: Lydia Seltzer, Bryanna Britten, Arianna Reader

The Tyrone Speech Team earned the overall team trophy at the Juniata Valley High School winter speech tournament on Thursday, February 17. Tyrone also came home with six of the eight personal awards.

Coming in first place with her second perfect score of the year was Junior Laci Daniel, who recited “Somewhere in America,” by Zariya Allen.

I was thrilled to see our all-school average. It may be our highest ever”

— Speech Team Coach Leah Deskevich

Daniel chose the poem she did because it addressed many topics that are crucial, yet difficult, to talk about.

“I’m so thrilled to have gotten a perfect score. Nothing compares to the feeling of all fours on the score sheet after the hard work put into the speech,” said Daniel.

Sophomore Alysa Wheland won Best Senior High Speech for her oration of Tim Siebel’s poem, “Blade, Unplugged.”

“A lot of competitors chose to do poems, so I was unsure if I would win an award as there are many remarkable speakers in the speech league. That being said, I am happy to have once again won the best senior high speech, especially since I had lost by two points at Poetry Out Loud with the same poem,” said Wheland.

Freshman Lily Whited won her first speech team award, earning Best Junior High Speech for “Words…” by Jim Yerman.

“I was so happy to have won and see my hard work pay off,” said Whited.

Sophomore Bryanna Britten won Best Senior High Poetic Oration for her interpretation of William Blake’s “Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing among the snow.”

I’m so thrilled to have gotten a perfect score. Nothing compares to the feeling of all fours on the score sheet after the hard work put into the speech”

— Junior Laci Daniel

“I am so proud of how far I have come as a speaker,” said Britten. “A lot of my competitors have much more experience than I do, so doing better than a lot of them means a lot to me.”

Senior Arianna Reader tied for Best Senior High Original Speech. She wrote and presented a speech titled, “In Loves Lies Madness.”

Junior Lydia Seltzer won Best Senior High Serious Speech for reading one of Aesop’s fables titled, “Mercury and the Woodman.”

“This was my first in-person meet since COVID began,” said Seltzer. “It felt like a long time since I’d done any public speaking, and this meet was more about proving to myself that I could still do it.”

Other speeches from Tyrone competitors include junior Gabriella Hoffman who performed the poem, “Why Am I Not Good Enough” by Olivia Vella, junior Ashlynn McKinney with “Like Totally Whatever” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and Senior Mario Grugan who performed T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

TAHS speech team adviser and former English teacher, Leah Deskevich, was very proud of her team’s success.

“I was thrilled to see our all-school average. It may be our highest ever,” said Deskevich.

Co-Advisor Gabby McLaren was also pleased with how well the speakers did.

“Most of our competitors received high marks which allowed us to bring the all-school trophy back to Tyrone,” said McLarren.

Not only did the team compete well as individuals, with six out of nine members winning an award, but the team competed well as a whole, winning the team trophy for having an average score of 60.6 out of 64 total possible points.

Tyrone’s members include freshman Lily Whited, sophomores Bryanna Britten and Alysa Wheland, juniors Laci Daniel, Lydia Seltzer, Gabriella Hoffman and Ashlynn McKinney, and senior Mario Grugan.

The Central PA Speech League consists of three schools: Tyrone, Williamsburg, and Juniata Valley.

At the actual competition, competitors are broken up into random groups of four or five students and are placed in a room with a judge, typically a teacher or facility member from the hosting school.

Participants are judged based on the introduction, volume, expression, speed, pronunciation, eye contact, poise, and appearance.

In most competitions, whether athletic or academic, coaches are able to see all participants perform, but this is not the case for the speech team. The coaches do not see any of the speeches, with the exception of the top three winning speeches, all of which were from Tyrone speakers.

The next competition will be at Tyrone on April 13th.