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April 12, 2013
Northern-Sun Print
I am beyond proud and excited to share the news that one of our very own got the ultimate speech season prize, and represented GRHS at the 35th Annual Iowa High School Speech Association Individual Events All-State Festival on Monday, March 25th. Hanna Christopher (GRHS sophomore) was our shining star this year, performing at the festival on the UNI Campus. It is estimated that IHSSA serves over 40,000 students across the state, and only the best of the best from all over Iowa get to be performers and non-performers at this honorable event! In order to get to All-State, you must get a 1 rating from the judge at Districts and move on to State. At the State level, there are three judges. You must get at least two 1 ratings to be eligible for All-State, but you have a greater chance if you get straight 1s from all three judges. If a judge feels that your performance was extremely outstanding, and worthy of the highest level, they can nominate you to perform at All-State. From that moment on, being chosen can be quite the toss-up. For instance, if a judge sees five outstanding performances for that day, they must then rate those performances on a scale from 1-5, one being the best. The higher ranked you are among all three judges, the greater the chance you have of attending All-State. At the All- State level, there are both performing and non-performing. Performing is just as it sounds, you go to the festival and perform for a guest critic, who watches and shares words of advice and encouragement. Non-performing is easily defined as an honorable mention. The person doesn’t actually get to perform at the festival, but is recognized for their outstanding performance. Hanna’s performed a Literary Program, which includes poetry and prose (short story) pieces that all share the same theme. Hanna’s theme was “Be Careful of Words”, and included two poems and a prose piece. To start off, “Poem #89” by Emily Dickinson was a short-stanza poem that discusses whether a word is dead when it is said, or if it just begins to live that day. Next was the prose piece, “Death by Scrabble” by Charlie Fish. It is from the perspective of a man who is married, and hates his wife. While playing a scrabble game, he discovers that the words that they play are coming true in real life. He comes up with the brilliant idea to kill off his wife by playing the word “quake” and causing the earth to shake. His wife plays death, which causes him to choke on a scrabble piece and die--this leaves the audience in utter shock because no one could’ve predicted that ending! Her final piece was the poem, “Words” by Anne Sexton. It expresses many different emotions, comparing the words that describe the beautiful things in life, to the times when words have failed her. The overall concept of Hanna’s Literary Program was to make people realize how important words really are, and reminds us to think before we speak. Hanna shared with me some of her favorite parts about going through this All-State experience that so few actually accomplish. I asked Hanna what her favorite part about performing is, and she responded, “My favorite part is getting all of the compliments afterwards and knowing that the audience enjoyed my performance. I have fun while I am performing and my ultimate goal is to entertain them.” Hanna says that her favorite part about All-State was having all of her friends, family, and coach come to support her. She says that it made the day much more fun and it was easier to perform her piece with people she knew in the room. I asked Hanna what the future has in store for her when next year’s individual speech season rolls around. She says that she’ll probably stick to what she does best and do Literary Program again next year, but that she might also perform Solo Musical Theater. Hanna says, “it really just depends on what I feel like doing at the time, but hopefully I can find another piece as good as the one I put together this year.” Of course, I had to ask her the obvious question--are you going to go to All-State again?! She modestly replied, “Who knows if I will go to All-State next year, but I would love to go again because it was a great experience!” Everyone loves some extra advice from someone successful, so I asked Hanna to share some words of wisdom. “My first advice to others would be not to settle on an average piece that you think is just simple ‘okay’. You are going to be working on the piece countless hours and performing it multiple times, so no matter how much time it takes you to find the perfect peiece, don’t give up. Next, you have to be committed on getting plenty of practice time, both at school and at home, in order to get familiar with your script. The last thing I would say is to just have fun with it, because achieving All-State is a great honor to have!” In wrapping up the interview, I asked Hanna if there was anything else she’d like to share. My heart was touched when she told me that she wanted to include a big thank-you to me in this article. I was Hanna’s mentor throughout this past individual speech season, and I was blessed with the opportunity to watch a speech rockstar form before my eyes. Though she thanks me for the advice I gave her and countless, long practices, it was ultimately her who made a piece that could’ve been good, to extraordinary! Hanna will always be the most modest young lady when she reflects back on this experience, but don’t let her fool you--she worked harder than anyone could’ve guessed. No one, no one was more deserving of the title of “All-State Performer” than Miss Hanna Christopher! I love her, and I couldn’t be more proud of her! Once again, congratulations, Hanna! There are always great things happening in the lives of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School students, and Hanna is more proof of what amazing talent we have here in our community!


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