By DENISE DICK
About 900 teens descended on Canfield High School this weekend, demonstrating their dramatic flair, eloquence, knowledge of current events or ability to win an argument.
The young competitors from across the state were participating in the Ohio High School Speech League State Tournament, which was co-hosted by Canfield and Boardman high schools.
Contestants match their skills in events ranging from debate and extemporaneous speaking, to dramatic or humorous interpretation where they act out scenes from a play, portraying the voices of all of the characters.
Tournaments begin each fall and run all day most Saturdays, culminating in the state event. Competitors must qualify for a berth at the state contest.
Brandon Brooks, a senior at Canfield, has been in speech since his freshman year, his first year in debate. He competes in Prose & Poetry Interpretation, a category in which competitors cull selections from different
literary works with a common theme.
This weekend was Brandon’s third appearance at the state tournament.
“You kind of get a drive to do it,” he said of his involvement. “It gives you an outlet.”
He enjoys connecting with his audience each weekend and spending time with friends who also are on the team.
Albert Jordan, a junior from Austintown Fitch High School, competes in Oratorical Interpretation, a category in which the contestant delivers a speech, capturing the thoughts and emotions behind it.
Albert’s speech is “I’m Branton Henry,” and it’s about first impressions.
Albert got involved with speech team with the encouragement of family and friends. “They said, ‘You talk a lot. You should try this,’ ” he said.
So far, it seems to be working for him.
Albert joined the team as a sophomore, and this marked his second state tournament.
Gary Zamary, a junior at Canfield, saw his third state tournament this weekend.
He competes in Impromptu Speaking, in which speakers draw a quotation and must deliver a speech explaining or interpreting it.
After drawing the quote, each speaker has seven minutes in which to prepare and deliver the speech.
Even though each round of each tournament brings a different quotation, Gary said he and others in the category work with their coach, preparing speeches for practice.
More than 80 schools were represented at the tournament, which started Friday and wrapped up Saturday evening. Canfield and Boardman planned the tournament together.