MetroWest Daily News Article
By Brian Benson, Daily News Staff
NATICK – For members of the Natick High School speech team, participating in an activity that challenges them to recite poetry, excerpts from novels and other works is about much more than mastering public speaking skills.
"It teaches you ... how to put yourself out there with confidence," said Marie Libbin, a senior.
Fellow senior Jenna Davidson said she’s "learned to act and try new things and be able to not be embarrassed by myself."
Last weekend, the team received the pinnacle of speech team awards at the grand national tournament of the National Catholic Forensic League? in Chicago. Natick received the Founders Award, which is presented to the top five schools in their speech team category.
Students from about 1,200 schools sought to qualify for the national competition in one of three categories – speech, debate and combined speech and debate, said Natick coach Sarah Donnelly, who had 13 students qualify.
The Founders Award was based on Natick's top three performances: Senior Jeffrey Heithmar and Davidson placed 25th out of 231 pairs in duo interpretation. Libbin placed 4th out of 243 students in oral interpretation and Connor Shea, a sophomore, finished first in declamation out of 223 students.
Team members said the Founders Award, Natick’s first in 48 years of having a team, recognizes the accomplishments of current and past members."
We finally reached this goal we worked so hard for," Heithmar said. "We can only build on that."
Heithmar and Davidson performed excerpts from of "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl, a book they said had a fun, energetic vibe and also a message.
Libbin performed poems and "A Portion of Your Loveliness," by Amy Bloom.
Shea performed his interpretations of "The Myth of the Gay Agenda," a speech by LZ Granderson that Shea said sends an important message that despite people being of different sexual orientations, everyone is one human race.
"It’s just an amazing piece I feel everyone needs to hear," said Shea, who acknowledged he was nervous as he went deeper into the multi-round competition.
But, Shea had his teammates to cheer him on as students, though they do not compete as one like many sports teams, all support each other and have become friends.
"We’re not on the field together, but we have to make sure we still become a team," Donnelly said. "We really work hard at that."