Two Central students earn all-state honors in individual speech

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Brenna Buckman earned all-state honors in the solo musical theatre event, with her performance of “I’m Still Hurting” from the production The Last Five Years.

Anna Hauschild, in her first year as a member of Central’s speech team, received all-state honors for performing Nora Ephron’s 1996 Wellesley commencement address in the public address category.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central speech program continues to produce results, evidenced by the state competition at Postville on March 13, where Brenna Buckman and Anna Hauschild received all-state honors and the program totaled 11 one ratings over 16 events. 


“I was extremely proud of the students and their performances,” said coach Carolyn Yanda. 


Getting to those results was no easy task, but  Yanda and the students appeared to solve any challenges with ingenuity and quality coaching. 


Because COVID-19 cancelled the Upper Iowa Conference competition, there was no “dress rehearsal” event, as Yanda put it, where speakers could “get the jitters out.” 


To combat this, Central hosted a showcase evening that allowed parents and friends to watch the performances, with community members acting as judges. 


The other obstacle the speech program had to overcome was how busy this time of the school year is for the performers. As the individual season begins, large group speech is still going on, as are basketball and wrestling, followed by musical rehearsals, track and field, FFA and jazz choir. Not to mention the everyday things like school, family, friends and jobs. Emerging from this were impressive efforts by Central’s two all-state nominees.


It’s even more remarkable in Hauschild’s case because this was her first year on the team—she had never been to an individual speech competition prior to this season. 


With Yanda, Hauschild chose material she had a connection with and “felt strongly about” for the interpretive reading - public address category. That material ended up being Nora Ephron’s 1996 commencement speech delivered at Wellesley College. What made it important for Anna was the theme of the speech, which “stressed the continued existence of the glass ceiling and urged listeners to break the rules,” she explained. 


“Anna did a tremendous job interpreting the meaning and delivering the address,” Yanda said. 


As for Buckman, she has experience in the program, but all-state is never guaranteed—experience or not. It also takes commitment, hard work and, in Buckman’s case, a “beautiful voice with a wide range,” as Yanda described it. 


Competing in the solo musical theatre event, Buckman sang “I’m Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years, which is a musical about a man and woman who recently divorced. It goes through their story and heartbreak. 


“Both of these young women rose to the occasion and, in my opinion, gave their best performances of the season,” said Yanda. “Not all schools receive this honor, and for a school our size to have two nominees, is a great feat.”


While they rose to the occasion, both Hauschild and Buckman admitted they owe a debt to coach Yanda for their success. 


“I would not have done nearly as well as I did if it was not for coach Yanda. We spent hours upon hours critiquing and working to make my events the best they could possibly be,” Hauschild said. 


“Mrs. Yanda is an amazing coach, and she really helps every student improve,” Buckman added. 


This is good news for a program that has grown under Yanda’s leadership. She took over in 2015, when Central only had seven students on the team. Over the years, the program has evolved, becoming more well rounded and expanding into more categories beyond the most popular poetry, prose, improv and storytelling. 


Now, the team fields performers for solo musical theatre, radio news announcing, spontaneous speaking, public address, original oratory, acting and after-dinner speaking. Out of a possible 14 categories to perform in, Central had an entry in all but three this year. On top of that, the team welcomed five new members, three of whom were freshmen. 


One of those new members was Hauschild, who said joining the team has “proved to be a wonderful experience.” 


It’s an experience she wishes she had started as a freshman. It’s also something she would encourage everybody to participate in. 


“It is such a wonderful creative outlet and opportunity to really express myself…and I don’t think anyone will ever look back and think ‘gosh darn it, I wish I never spent all that time perfecting my public speaking skills,’” she shared. 


For Buckman, joining the team is about pursuing a passion and advancing the fine arts. 


“The fine arts are so rewarding and allows every student to express themselves creatively. My successes with speech and the fine arts in general makes me feel like I’m showing to everyone in our school and in surrounding schools how the fine arts are unique and special,” she said. 


There is also a practical side to joining the speech team. 


“Speech is a very useful activity to become involved in. It provides so many life skills,” Yanda said. “One of the most important is confidence and poise under pressure. Other skills it can provide include public speaking or performing in front of an audience, writing, organizing, memorizing, interpreting and thinking on one’s feet. These skills are easily transferred to all areas.” 


With the season concluded, Central has shown its speech programs are capable of great things, and Hauschild and Buckman have provided a template for those who will come after them. As they reflected on their success, Yanda remarked on what makes a season memorable to her as a coach. It’s not the wins, but the students. 


“Obviously, having two all-state performers is a highlight for any coach. But, as always, my favorite part of any season is working with these talented young people and seeing their enthusiasm, celebrating their victories, guiding them through the disappointments.  Something memorable for me this season is the hard work put forth by the students and I saw some spectacular performances in competition,” Yanda said. 

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