by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
The Elk River speech team has captured its first section championship, led by pair of individual champions, announced coach Allison Harmer.
“We’ve gone from about 20 students go over 40, and we’ve gone from consistently finishing seventh or eighth in the section to champions,” said Harmer, who’s been with the program five years, the last two as solo head coach. “It’s definitely something worth celebrating.”
Harmer is assisted by Emily Montag.
Eleven students advanced to state in including two duos, the most every for ERHS, in the Section 7AA meet at Grand Rapids on March 29.
Earning section first-places were junior Hannah Gandrud in Creative Expression and sophomore Mary Rolfes in Extemporaneous Reading.
Gandrud’s piece is called “Don’t Get Me Started: A Tale of Heartache, Beauty, and Swans,” about the Ugly Duckling from the fairy tale after she grows up. In her narrative we discover that the superficial emphasis on looks derailed her life, leaving her to end up as a chain-smoking bartender in Newark, N.J., with no real future.
“Judges love her creativity, her writing, and her ability to create really believable characters,” said Harmer. “Hannah is extremely talented at voices and has amazing comedic timing, which sets her apart. She is really just a joy to watch.”
Rolfes, in Extemporaneous Reading, receives a list of 13 stories that she needs to have prepared. Each contestant draws what story she will be reading that round with 30 minutes to prepare.
“Mary consistently wins because of her ability to make it sound like she is telling a story, not just reading it,” said Harmer. “She has enthusiasm, poise, and a really profound ability to capture the heart of a story and make it come alive for the audience.”
Rolfes won the category with the most entrants in the meet.
Also advancing to state are senior Meghan Benton in Great Speeches, senior Brady Murphy in Storytelling, junior Kari Peterson and freshman Dylan Clausen in Discussion, sophomore Timothy Wilder in Original Oratory, and two Duo entries, senior Breanna Howerton/junior James Bounds, and seniors Emily Meyer/Charlie Domeier.
The state meet will be held April 11 in Blaine.