Speech Team concludes strong season with Sectional bid


Photo by Leslie Fireman

Senior Daniel Canda and sophomores Chase Pechman and Mia Villaquette perform their speeches for the English department ahead of Sectionals.

By Adan Villa, Editor

On February 12, senior Daniel Canda, and sophomores Mia Valliquette and Chase Pechman represented West Chicago Community High School’s Speech Team at the Sectional competition, which was held at Wheaton Warrenville South High School in Wheaton, Illinois. 

The tournament consisted of a series of preliminary rounds. Those who earned high scores moved on to final rounds, and those who placed in the top 3 of their sectional competition will continue to the State tournament, which is being held February 18-19 at the Peoria Civic Center

This was the first year on Speech Team for all three of WEGO’s Sectional contenders, and as head coach Paul Lichy explained, the competition was strong. 

Pechman delivers a speech on the Russian/Ukraine conflict during a Speech Team showcase event in the LRC.

“It’s great to have our kids there. [Sectionals] is harder than our State competition, so to have them there was a huge accomplishment,” said Lichy.

Social Studies teacher and Speech Team coach Nicole Stadler said, “This Sectional is notoriously a tough one – in fact many State winners come from this Sectional, so it is always a battleground. We are incredibly proud of the entire team, both in how well they competed at our Sectional and previous to that how they competed in our Regional (which is also very tough)!”

Speech is an Illinois High School Association (IHSA) competitive public speaking division that consists of 14 different events. Those who participate get to choose which event(s) they enter, depending on their strengths and where the coaches believe they would excel. Some of the categories are performance-based, which have to do with acting, while a few are analytical and research-based. Some additional events revolve around news, international news, and sports news. 

Although the WEGO’s team did not place at Sectionals, they “held their own amongst some of the best in the State, even though it was the first year on the team for all three of them! Mia and Chase are both sophomores (competing mainly against juniors and seniors in their events), and Daniel, although a senior, was competing against students who had been active in speech for two [to] three years,” said Stadler.

Canda earned a third place win at the Regional competition at Wheaton North the week prior to Sectionals. He was also the Upstate Eight Conference champ in the same category, and placed first at the WeGo Novice-“ish” Tournament on November 20.

Looking back on my first speech season, I am most proud of my team and the way [we] performed. I was welcomed into the team with open arms and we together were able to accomplish some amazing things. I am equally as proud of my coaches who helped grow our team to perform at our best,” said Canda.

Valliquette placed fourth at the Regional competition in informative speaking with her piece about the 2016 election. She also earned sixth-place finishes at the Upstate Eight Conference championship and WeGo Novice-“ish” Tournament. She will be back next season to compete again.

Junior Kenya Bahena presented a dramatic poetry reading at a recent showcase event. (Photo by Leslie Fireman)

I’m looking forward to trying different events and just becoming more experienced in general. I’m hoping to do another writing event, and maybe even an acting event would be fun!” said Valliquette. 

Pechman placed second in extemporaneous speaking at the Upstate Eight Conference championship, and fourth at the WeGo Novice-“ish” Tournament in the same category. Pechman also competed in oratorical declamation at the latter tournament and came in fifth.

In addition to Lichy and Stadler, there are two other Speech Team coaches: English teacher and WeGo Drama advisor Mark Begovich, and SRC Director Julio Alverez. The team holds daily practices, and members meet individually with their coaches and develop/better their speeches. 

Canda said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to Coach Begovich for giving me countless hours of coaching and training. Without his dedication, I could not have performed the way that I did.”

The coaches expressed similar admiration for this year’s 12 team members, which also included seniors Satindar Grewal, Jahaira Salinas and Santiago Villa, juniors Kenya Bahena, Melyssa Salinas and Sofia Tamayo, and sophomores Sebastian Alarcon, Alex Bradley and Dana Tomasevic.

“All in all, this team has made us very proud, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our returning members,” said Stadler.

Speech Team is open to students of all grade levels. Tryouts are typically held in early October. No experience is necessary to join the team.

Canda said, “To anyone thinking of joining the speech team, you should absolutely do so. The skills you will learn [will] help you now, and you will carry them into the future. An additional benefit is you will develop friendships and camaraderie with your team.”