Two Decorah High School groups were selected as banner recipients at this year’s All-State Speech Festival held in Ames over the weekend: a television news broadcast entitled “FOCUS: Loss of Innocence/Society’s Gain” and a short film entitled “Pressure.”

“The students in TV news and short film brought home the banner this weekend because they believed in the possibility to do so and worked endless hours to make it happen,” Coach Molly Holkesvik said. “I am so excited for the students in both of these speech groups as they logged hundreds of hours writing, taping, editing, and editing some more. The grit these students showed this season made the banners possible, a lesson these students will take with them for years to come.”

Approximately 80 Decorah High School students made the trip to Ames over the weekend to perform at the festival at the Iowa State Center on the ISU campus.
Eight events were nominated as outstanding performances and joined other elite speech students from across the state to share their performances with a professional critic.

Each critic selects one performance at the end of the day and awards a banner to that entry signifying them as “best of center” in that category. The banner winner, in the eyes of the critic, represents a “state championship” quality performance that stands out above the rest.

Cast members of Television News “FOCUS: Loss of Innocence/Society’s Gain,” directed by Molly Holkesvik, include Josephine Berlage, Devin Brevig, Chance Elton, Isaac Fish, Kayle Fjelstul, Marissa Foels, Parker Grinna, Kara Hooper, Madelyn Jermier, Maria Lea, Ann Meirick, Jacob Roher, Max Sparrow, Paul Strand, and Kasey Thompson.

The critic praised the FOCUS cast for their creativity, attention to detail, organization and poise. The Dateline-like broadcast forced these students to tackle new technology and look beyond their knowledge of a typical news broadcast. As the critic stated, “Such a serious topic is really hard to do well, especially for teenagers; and these kids eloquently told a very important story from beginning to end. They had the whole package.”

Cast members of the Short Film “Pressure,” directed by Molly Holkesvik, include Nick Bockman, Augusta Casterton, Nathaniel Cowie, Claudia Cowie, Vita Domnenko, Avery Dugger, Maddie Fahey, Jenna Galligan, Caroline Knox-Reid, Christopher Miculinich, Rylee Monteith, Alex Nesset, Kaitlyn Rooney, Brynne Valkosky, and Marissa Weis.

The short film examines the life of a teenager and the pressures she feels from day to day. The film starts with a typical high school scene – students walking and talking in the hallways – and abruptly transitions into a pool of water, where the main character treads through life trying to keep her world together.

The film continues this back and forth movement from place to place as the main character adds more and more pressure to her life. So much so that, as the All-state critic explained, “The audience members feel pressure as they view the film.”

After viewing the film, Superintendent Mike Haluska noted, “Now I’m wondering what I need to do to help kids handle the pressures of their lives.”

“With over 175 students participating to start the season, numerous division one ratings at all contests, ten outstanding all-state nominations, and two banners awarded to our teams, the success of these students speaks for itself,” Large groups speech directors Molly Holkesvik, Thomas Houdek, Carrie Kauffman, Gabe Twedt and Kristen Underwood said, at the conclusion of the weekend’s events. “But in our eyes, the true success of the season is witnessing their unbelievable work ethic, the compassion for their teammates, and the smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes when they have finished performing. DHS was once again well represented as one of the top speech programs in the state this past Saturday. A big thank you for all involved in the fire truck parade, the ringing of the victory bell, and for packing the house at all our performances throughout the season. Saturday night was a true celebration of our entire speech team.”