August 6th, 2014
Kayley Miller Prepares for a New Season with Wheeling Park High School’s Speech and Debate Team
Just weeks after the school year ended, I found myself back in the classroom a little sooner than I had expected. This year I decided that I was going to take advantage of my position on the Wheeling Park High School speech and debate team, and the time to prepare for the upcoming season was now. Last year, I did make the team, but my priorities were focused more on sports over speaking. With my other activities like cheerleading, track, and dance, filing economist articles and learning how to pronounce world leaders' names were not in my top interests whatsoever.
Entering my junior year, I know that my performance on standardized tests, sporting events and community activism will play a big role in determining my college selection. I hate to admit that my mom was right when she said that colleges love club involvement, but I never realized the weight some colleges placed on being a member of a speech team- not to mention one that has won the state tournament for the last 35 years. Unfortunately, I was not a big team contributor to that 35th state title; I wasn't even selected to compete at the state level. This year my goal is to not only compete at states, but to place in my signature event as well.
Extemporaneous speaking. I know, it sounds intimidating already. Having only 30 minutes to prepare a seven minute speech about an international political topic and referencing popular news sources isn't for everyone. Although I didn't have much of a choice, I grew to love learning the ins and outs of the Chinese economy and how German chancellor, Angela Merkel is guiding Europe out of the Eurozone crisis. I was trained by two talented veterans from the speech world, but I knew going into the upcoming year, both would be in college; leaving me to train a few new brave rookies. Instead of jumping right into the "extemp world" as we call it, I decided to revamp our entire system and basically start from scratch. Not until I watched the two "newbies" perform their first speech did I realize how great it felt to know that my few hours a day was already placing our team a step above the rest.
From my experiences on the speech team, I've learned more than just what's going on in the world. One of the biggest lessons that I continue to encounter as I progress through high school is that my mom is usually right, even though I always have to figure it out myself first. Secondly, public speaking on your feet may be one of the biggest attributes a person can gain. Whether it is an admissions interview, a graduation speech, or even in a casual conversation, the ability to clearly annunciate words and formulate sentences is a skill some wish they would've invested time into at my age. Lastly, one year on the speech team has taught me that sometimes it takes a while to catch your footing before you can be successful. I was on the brink of quitting the team until I realized how much I had already learned within a few weeks. Sometimes all it takes is a little "TLC," time, leadership, and charisma of course to learn the ropes and find a new passion. Hopefully my dedication will pay off as my teammates and I continue on our journey to state title number 36.