Speech Team hosts Regionals this weekend


Photo by Yearbook Staff

Junior Mia Valliquette, who competed at Sectionals last year, receives feedback from her coach in January.

By Anum Mahdi and Anela Poskovic

West Chicago Community High School’s Speech Team prepares for competition on the home turf heading into Regionals on Feb 4.

Around 200 people will compete in this weekend’s tournament, including members of WEGO’s team, captained by seniors Kenya Bahena and Sofia Tamayo, who are both multi-year competitors. While the team does host annual competitions, it has been some time since the regional competition has been held at West Chicago. 

“We are a very competitive area, so these teams that are trying to get to State are serious. So the mood at a regional tournament is good, and we have a great community, but it’s also very competitive, so the last thing you want is for something to go wrong,” Speech Team co-coach and English teacher Paul Lichy said.

The team has experienced some successes this season, and the Regionals competition will determine who moves on to the next level. Sophomore Sentia Irakose placed first at the Novice Tournament hosted by WEGO in 2022, and junior Nirali Kadakia, also a novice, has twice placed in the top ten. Junior Alex Bradley, who competes in Original Comedy and Oratorical Declamation on the Varsity team, earned third place in both events at the GBS Invitational. He also placed fourth in the former category at the Tournament of Roses in Naperville.

This year, the team is also competing in Dramatic Duet Acting, performed by junior Michael Angeles and senior Sofia Tamayo.

It’s a competitive scene where everyone is trying to do their best and rise to the top and you can definitely feel it in the atmosphere. However, there are a lot of really helpful and kind people who are there to help you improve your performance and it’s a really nice feeling to have, the same people that are competing against you are the same people who want to see you grow as a speaker and I think that’s amazing,” said junior Michael Angeles. 

Angeles credits Lichy with helping him improve as a speaker.

“It’s super satisfying to see how your piece can get so much better. I think that’s why it’s so addicting,” said Angeles. 

On Saturday, teams will arrive and gather in the cafeteria of the high school 8 or 8:30 a.m. Each of the students are given a program and a schedule of all the rules and all the events. The program also lists the times students will be competing. The Speech Tournament is spaced out so everybody has a fair opportunity to say their speech without feeling rushed. 

“Worst case scenario: the student feels like they didn’t have an opportunity to do their best, and when that happens, sometimes you will have to rerun, which takes hours. So we plan ahead of time, and even meet with Mr. Wolfe to make sure we have got our building plans together,” Lichy said.

Lichy has been working for several weeks to prepare for this major event.

“Any tournament that you host has a lot of planning behind it, the rooms have to be set up and we are very careful about using anybody else’s space,” Lichy said.

Speech Team co-coach Paul Lichy reviews the judges’ scoring sheet and feedback with a competitor prior to Regionals. (Photo by Yearbook Staff)

A number of volunteers have been recruited to help the tournament run smoothly by setting up rooms, directing parents and students to the correct room, and working the concessions stand.

The volunteers are also careful to return the school to its original order before school resumes. Lichy explained that any rearranging of the rooms before the tournament begins are documented: the students take a picture of the room and when they are done using it, they have a visual picture to be remind them of the correct arrangement so they can put everything back to where it belongs. 

Regardless of what happens at Regionals, the team tried out new content this year, and improved their communication and performance skills, according to Bahena.

“I think the team needs to keep in mind how far they’ve come since the beginning of the season, and how they’ve grown as speakers. The skills they’ve learned are skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their life,” said Bahena.

For a chance to see the team perform ahead of Regionals, all students and members of the public are invited to see tonight’s Showcase at 4 p.m. in the LRC.