The Great Bend High School Speech Team hosted the West Kansas District National Qualifying Speech Tournament on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22.
Senior Ashtin Heath placed first in Original Oration qualifying her to nationals. Heath also placed third in Dramatic Interpretation qualifying that event to nationals as well. Senior Aaron Miller placed second in Humorous Interpretation qualifying him to nationals. Miller also placed third in Original Oration qualifying that event to nationals as well.
Students are only allowed to compete at nationals in one event. Ashtin Heath chose Dramatic Interpretation and Aaron Miller chose Humorous Interpretation. The national tournament will be held June 17-24 in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I am so excited to be able to go represent my district at the national tournament with Aaron!” Heath said.
Miller commented, “It’s an honor to be able to go to the national tournament. It feels like all of my hard work has paid off!”
Some of the younger members on the team also placed at the tournament.
Freshman Patrick Heath was a finalist in Informative Speaking and placing sixth in that event. Freshman Bayle Sandy was a semi-finalist in Program of Oral Interpretation, placing 12th out of 42 students. Sophomore Geoffrey Pafford placed eighth in Humorous Interpretation. The students including Darian Harbaugh placed third overall in sweepstakes out of 15 schools.
Two former GBHS students were also recognized and received awards.
Nick Barton, Class of 2002, received the District Alumni Achievement Award. Barton was on the team 15 years ago and he was a four-time state champion on the team and semi-finalist at the high school national speech tournament. Then he was a college nationals champion and helped run some speech camps. He is currently an independent filmmaker and movie writer, director and producer.
Kari Wahlgren, Class of 1995, received District Communicator of the Year. Wahlgren was on the team 22 years ago and she was a two-time state champion and a semi-finalist at the high school national speech tournament. She graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1999. She then moved to Los Angeles and is currently a voice actress who has provided voices for over 100 cartoons, anime and video games.
Both Barton and Wahlgren accepted their awards by videotaped acceptance speeches which Dan Heath, the GBHS audio-visual teacher, edited and presented at the awards assembly.
GBHS speech coach Barbara Watson said, “The tournament ran very well. Many people from our community helped judge at the tournament. Many speech and debate parents also helped run the tournament. Kim Heath helped in the tab room and Traci Miller ran the judges’ lounge. Former student Malia Clark helped me hand out the judges’ ballots. All of the help from the community, teachers and parents made the tournament a success.”