Outspoken Memories

District, State Speech Cancelled Due to COVID-19


Delany Jepsen

Practice Makes Perfect – The Oral Interpretation of Drama practices “Matilda”. They were supposed to compete at districts before it was cancelled.

According to Forbes, Public Speaking Doesn’t Have to be Scary, one of the biggest fears that people possess is public speaking. The idea of standing in front of an audience is a well-known fear. That is not the case for the speech team.
Throughout the season they competed well. With 27 members on the team, 23 qualified for districts, with the hope of traveling to Kearney for the state tournament. Then on March 13, the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) confirmed that district and state speech would be canceled due to COVID-19.
“The fact that this season had to end so suddenly absolutely breaks my heart,” assistant coach Grace Kimnach said. “However, I am incredibly inspired by the way I have seen the students handle it. I expected everyone to be teary-eyed and disheartened, but that was not the case. Every student was smiling, laughing, and exuded optimism. They proved to me that they are resilient and that their love for speech and each other is so much greater than any first-place trophy.”

Preparation is Key- Connor Beck (21) and Ella Clarke (22) practice their duet, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. They were supposed to compete at districts before it was cancelled.

After the news about the cancellation was released, head coach Mr. Patrick White held an end of the season meeting. Students reflected on the season and how far they have come. All 27 members have created a tight-knit group. From pep talks before meets, team dinners at Village Inn and meetings over Zoom, their support for each other continues to show during the abrupt end to the season.
“I joined speech because I love public speaking and I thought I would be good at it,” sophomore Brynna Seim said. “I was really looking forward to districts, I was excited to try and make it to state. I love the speech community, it is so unique, everyone is kind and there to have fun. I am disappointed and sad for the seniors. I have two years left and they do not.”
Although this season is over, the team is looking ahead to next year’s season without their head coach, Mr. White. He is departing from teaching to become the manager of a new movie theater.
“One of my favorite memories is how supportive the students were when I told them I was not returning after this year,” Mr. White said. “Gretna High School has some of the best kids in the world, and I will dearly miss them. I’m exceptionally proud of them, and I want them to walk away from this season knowing they did amazing work.”

Delany Jepsen
Dancing The Night Away- The speech team dances the Macarena at the Skutt Catholic High School meet. “One of my favorite memories was seeing how much fun my competitors were having while they waited for awards to start at Skutt,” head coach Mr. White said. “They were dancing like fools and having the time of their lives.” The team won first place in class A overall.

Even though the season came to an unforeseen end, the team’s spirit remained high. The members created a strong community for the team. While they look forward to next season, this was a year to remember.