Showcasing Excellence in Speech

Left to Right: Yvonne Niebuhr 18, Kiran Kottapalli 18, Mrs. McGowan (Coach), Erin Golden 17, and Anna Sheehan 21.

Left to Right: Yvonne Niebuhr ’18, Kiran Kottapalli ’18, Mrs. McGowan (Coach), Erin Golden ’17, and Anna Sheehan ’21.

On Saturdays throughout the year, the Montrose Speech team travels to high schools in the area to perform at speech tournaments. At the tournaments, the Montrose speechies perform their pieces for a judge and fellow competitors, and then watch the other performers speak. The students come from a multitude of local schools, which makes speech a great way to meet other high school and middle school students. The Montrose speechies have bonded over tournaments and practices. It’s hard not to grow close when you spend days together for the sole purpose of competing with your public speaking skills.

Speech has become such a central part of my life in these past three years I’ve been on the team,” said Yvonne Niebuhr ‘18, a member of the Montrose Speech team. “All the skills I’ve learned and all the friendships I’ve made have made being on this team an unforgettable experience.”

The team got to show off their hard work at the Speech Showcase on May 16. We performed our speeches not for judges and competitors, but for our parents, siblings, friends, and teachers. “At the speech showcase we, the speechies, get to show our friends and family what speech really looks like. We get to share and celebrate all the hard work we’ve put into our pieces without any pressure of competition,” said Erin Golden ‘17, who delivered J. K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Address.  The Showcase featured four speeches in the categories of Declamation, Dramatic Performance, and Children’s Literature. At tournaments, the categories denote the separate groups of people competing against each other.

Kiran Kottapalli ‘18 remarked, “What I like about the showcase is that the audience is listening rather than judging. I think that often times the judges at tournaments are so busy picking out the flaws in each performance that they can not really absorb and appreciate the piece itself.” Kiran gave Emma Watson’s United Nation’s speech on gender equality. She said about her speech, “I hoped to share Emma Watson’s inspiring words with others. Her message regarding feminism was one that I found to be incredibly powerful, and my goal was that it would have a similar impact on the audience.”

Yvonne Niebuhr, who performed a monologue about an actress with a brain injury called “Watch Your Head,” said, “I want the speech showcase to show people that speech can be so many different things. Whether it’s a commencement address, a dramatic life story, or even a well-known children’s book, speech gives you an outlet to express yourself and improve your communication skills along the way.” I have noticed my own communication skills developing since I began speech. I am less afraid of the consequences of being wrong when I am talking to other people. Similarly, Kiran stated, “Speech is a great way to put yourself out there.”

The audience members also had their say on what they saw at the Speech Showcase. “As for outside comments,” said Yvonne, “my mom said that she was really impressed with how well we composed ourselves in performance, even though we were only in high school and middle school. She told me that having these Speech skills is valuable in any career.”


Mrs. Keefe commented, “The speeches were interesting and complex, but quite easy to understand because the speakers’ deliveries were masterful. They understood what they were saying and could convey that understanding to the audience.”  She added, “Erin Golden was J.K. Rowling. Kiran made me want to stand up for gender equality. And Yvonne Niebuhr had me weeping for the actress with the brain injury.” She also enthusiastically complimented my performance of the children’s book Make Way for Ducklings, which I thoroughly enjoyed acting out.


This is the power of speech: to tell a story, to prove a point, and to bring emotions out of the audience they themselves did not know they contained. The best part of speech, though, is how much fun I have while doing it, especially with any activity the team does during practices and before performances. “We do so many ridiculous things that you build this sort of immunity to embarrassment. It’s kind of amazing!” said Kiran.  I could think of no better way to sum up speech than Yvonne’s remark, “I would recommend Speech to absolutely anyone who loves performing, or even just wants to learn to love it. Even if it’s only to become a little less nervous in your class presentations, the skills you gain by being part of the team will always be valuable.”