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Acadec strikes gold in speech competition

The thought of public speaking strikes fear in the heart of memory. Standing before a panel of judges to recite an original composition may be nervewracking, but for the campus Academic Decathlon team, it was just another part of the day.

For the first time in campus history, seniors Christopher White and Anne Hierholzer stole the show in the speech competition on Jan. 29 at Fresno State University as they won the gold and silver medals for speech, in competition against the entire Fresno County.

No other campus student had previously won medals in speech in the seven years FC has participated in the San Joaquin Valley Acadec competition.

“We are very proud of them; it is an outstanding accomplishment,” Principal Gary Schultz said. “They worked really hard and, out of all the kids in the Valley, they were the best. Speech is so much harder than anything else. You have to be a natural in some ways; it is not like history or math.”

With over 340 students from 25 Valley high schools competing, the competitive spirit was evident during the all-day competition.

“This is the first time in my recollection that we have won any medals in speech; they took 1st and 2nd place overall,” Molly Sargent, Acadec coach, said. “Speech has two parts; they give a three and half to four minute prepared speech and then they gave an impromptu speech which they only have one minute to prepare for. The pressure is incredible for these students and for Chris and Anne to take home 1st and 2nd is tremendous.”

Both students based their speeches on personal experiences, with Hierholzer discussing her annoying little brother and White speaking on the topic of humiliation.

“It is an honor and very exciting,” White said. “My speech was on humility and was more towards the humorous side. I wasn’t very nervous while I was saying it because I had the same judges from two years ago. It was a great experience.”

The students feel a sense of accomplishment as their hard work is rewarded. Many hours of memorizing and writing went onto preparing for the competition.

“I am really surprised; it is so nice to have won,” Hierholzer said. “Although, I am nervous because I have to say it again during the awards ceremony. I was nervous saying it at the competition, but once I got going I was fine.”

The campus Acadec team will be competing in the seven remaining subjects on Feb. 5 at Fresno State, beginning at 9 A.M. At the end of the competition, White and Hierholzer will give their winning speeches during the awards ceremony in the North Gym. They also will give them during a special assembly to honor the Acadec team on Feb. 10 in Ground Zero.

For more information on the event, contact the high school office at 299-1695, ext. 5 or e-mail Sargent at [email protected].

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