Earlier in April, junior Shealyn Kawlewski placed third in the Minnesota State High School League State Speech Tournament held in Blaine. She competed in the category of Extemporaneous Reading.
This trip to the state tournament was Kawlewski’s second time at the state tournament. The first time Kawlewski competed, she was a freshman. In order to place at the tournament, Kawlewski competed in three rounds of competition. The top eight students then earned places in a final round where the students competed to earn their places in the state competition.
Making this final round of competition was one of Kawlewski’s goals. She said,”My freshman year I had made it to state, and I was hoping this year that I broke finals.” Kawlewski was eating lunch when she found out she made final round, and she was glad to celebrate with friends she has made while competing in speech, her mom, and Head Speech Coach Kris Lindvall.
Lindvall was proud of Kawlewski’s success. She said, “I was thrilled for Shealyn when she advanced to finals because she worked so hard this season. Getting into the final round at state is very difficult to do, so this was an acknowledgement of all of her efforts this year.”
In Extemporaneous Reading, competitors choose to compete in poetry or prose. Kawlewski competes in prose where she is given a book of 17 short stories or excerpts from books that she is to have read and analyzed. Once Kawlewski gets to a tournament, she draws three random cuttings from these stories. She explained, “At each speech meet, I draw three titles a half hour before I perform, and I choose one of those titles in which I am judged on facial expressions, delivery, interpretation, gestures, and vocal inflection. I also have to include a memorized introduction to the piece which I wrote myself which encompasses the theme of the piece and/or addresses the plot.”
Kawlewski likes the variety of stories in Extemporaneous Reading and the opportunity to use parts of her theater background. She said, “I love Extemp. Reading because it's just like reading a story to someone and being judged on how well you can enchant the audience. It also reminds me a little of auditioning for a play, which I always have fun with!”
In fact, Kawlewski had to perform first in the final round of competition because she had to be back at West to perform in the spring play. As a result, Kawleski missed the awards ceremony. Luckily, she had a good friend who kept checking the Minnesota State High School League website for the postings and eventually told Kawlewski she took third. As soon as the results were posted, the play’s cast, crew, and costumers came into the dressing room to congratulate Kawlewski and celebrate her success.
While competing at state was certainly a highlight of the season for Kawlewski, she has other fond memories of the season. She said, “One of my favorite parts of speech is the draw room. I love the draw room so much because it's a bunch of goofy speech kids who are sitting in room about to be extremely stressed out for thirty minutes while they prepare a speech, but have fun the rest of the tournament. Some of the coolest people are in the draw room and some great discussions (as well as hilarious ones) ensue.”
Congratulations, Shealyn, for your success at state!