The Union Knights Individual Speech Team competed at District Contest at North Butler High School on February 24th and at State Contest at Starmont High School on March 10th.  The Knights went into both with high hopes and with the largest individual team in recent history.


At District Contest, the Knights brought 30 contestants performing 34 pieces-the largest Individual Speech team in recent Union history. After a grueling day of performances, the Knights advanced 23 students performing 25 pieces to State Contest.  Those students advancing to State were: Sophie Selk (After Dinner Speaking and Public Address), Maddy LeRoy (Improvisation and Acting), Kortlyn Ewoldt (Solo Musical Theater), Abby Johnson (Literary Program), Isabelle Werner (Acting), Meghan Klein (Acting), Austin Timmer (Radio Newscasting), Autumn Kies (Storytelling), Cade Rahlf (Storytelling), Claire Thoma (Improvisation), Veronica Redman (Public Address), Libby Sauer (Radio Newscasting), Olivia Sash (Prose), Emily Miehe (Prose), Emma Harris (Poetry), Gabe HInes (Expository), Riley Davis (Solo Music Theater), Zeke Seuser (Poetry), Tyson Fleshner (Acting), Kylea Neuendorf (Acting) Dolores Cicio (Literary Program), Grace Johnson (Storytelling), and Rylee Sash (Prose).


“This is easily the largest group which we have managed to get through to State Individual Contest,” said Dean Bostian, Union Speech Coach.  “What really helped us this year was the addition of another coach.  Ali Leytem comes to the Union School District from New London School District and has provided a spark and immeasurable help in growing the program this year.” Another point Bostian raises, is the fact many students wrote their own pieces, which is just a testament to their creativity and intelligence.


State competition at Starmont High School proved to be a little more difficult for the Knights.  They left a long day of performances with 12 Division I’s and 13 Division II’s. “State competition was much tougher than Districts, and I think the kids discovered it takes much more work to earn a Division I at State than it is to earn a Division I at Districts,” says Bostian.  Those receiving Division I’s at State were Austin Timmer, Isabelle Werner, Meghan Klein, Sophie Selk, Kortlyn Ewoldt, Cade Rahlf, Emily Miehe, Zeke Seuser, Claire Thoma, Olivia Sash, Veronica Redman, and Kylea Neuendorf.


The day ended on a high note when three of the Union Speech performers were chosen for Individual All-State Festival.  Austin Timmer made All-State in Radio Newscasting, with his station KPRA.  KPRA represents the middle name of Austin (Kenneth), and the middle names of his siblings (Paige, Richard, and Ann).  “If you know Austin, you know how important family is to him,” says Bostian. “When he told me the call letters and explained their significance, I was impressed.  Not only does he have a clear, crisp voice and great calmness under pressure, but he also shows what family means to him.”  Cade Rahlf made All State in Storytelling with the retelling of Robin Hood. “Cade was made for storytelling.  His voice, vocal variations, and his ability to act from sitting created a riveting tale. He just completely gives himself to the story he is telling.  He is an incredible performer,” Bostian said.  Zeke Seuser reached All-State in poetry, performing a slam poem, entitled The Wrong Side of History, by an artist known as IN-Q.  “Zeke actually contacted IN-Q and asked permission to perform his poem at contest.  IN-Q thought it was a great idea and was honored Zeke thought about enough about his poem to perform it publicly. The poem is about gun violence and how America is reacting.  Zeke had chosen it before the shooting in Parkland, FL, so it was very timely, to say the least,” said Bostian.


All three will be performing on March 26th on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.