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DeKalb High School speech team readies for first state competition in 3 years

DeKALB – DeKalb High School Forensics Club member Joy Kewih just wants an opportunity to prove she is one of the best in the state at what she does.

“I like performing because I like watching the competition, but I also like winning,” Kewih said.

Kewih is one of several members of the school’s forensics, or speech, team to qualify for this weekend’s IHSA state finals at the Peoria Civic Center.

Students perform roughly eight-minute speeches, including drama, poetry, skits and more.

The DeKalb team placed first out of a field of 27 teams competing in the sectional Saturday at Huntley High School. The win marks DeKalb’s 11th sectional championship in the past 14 years.

Greg Solomon, who has coached the team for about
30 years, said this year’s win is especially exciting.

“I would say it probably has a little bit more weight than it has in the past because it’s been three years since we’ve won, and this team is a really special team – just in terms of how they support each other and their work ethic, which is really nice to see they’re rewarded for that,” Solomon said.

The students push themselves harder because they are able to pick their own pieces, Solomon said.

Kewih is competing in two events and will be performing a poetry piece about sexual assault and a speech called “The Racial Politics of Time.”

“I just felt the subject matter was something that needed to be talked about,” Kewih said.

Although she enjoys the competition, Kewih said she also appreciates the support from her teammates.

“When you’re not having a good day, they all come and pick you up,” Kewih said.

She compared it to a big family.

TJ Fontana performed under Solomon’s guidance before becoming a co-coach himself – almost 20 years ago.

“It is, in my opinion, I’m not biased at all, probably the best activity kids can do for preparing them for a lot of the challenges that they’re gonna see in life,” Fontana said.

The team performs Friday and Saturday.

Advancing on to state are:

• Joy Kewih: First place in Oratorical Declamation and second place in Poetry Reading

• Will Olson: First place in Extemporaneous Speaking

• Katherine Sharp: First place in Original Oratory

• Summer McFalls: Second place in Humorous Interpretation

• Abby Hanlon and Jacob Zenz: Second place in Humorous Duet Acting

Not advancing, but still earning points as sectional finalists were:

• Matt Angel: Fourth place in Original Comedy

• Dylan Propheter: Fourth place in Radio Speaking

• Abby Hanlon: Fifth place in Dramatic Interpretation

• Gabbie Melms: Fifth place in Special Occasion Speaking

• Clay Ward: Sixth place in Impromptu Speaking

• Katherine Sharp: Sixth place in Informative Speaking

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