Among the stutters, long pauses, sweat and tears, there were some great speeches by students at Geneva Academy during the annual speech meet Wednesday and Thursday.

“Everyone likes a good story, right,” 10th-grader Aidan Allen started his speech. “Some people enjoy Star Trek, other Star Wars. And even within those who like Star Wars, some of us prefer the original trilogy ... and others have terrible taste in movies.”

The crowd chuckled and his speech continued to delve into the way stories are told — the monomyth.

Allen was the first to deliver his rhetoric, something 10th, 11th and 12th graders do. Topics varied from motherhood to gun violence, transgenderism, the grace of God, and others.

“I learned that speech meet isn’t the worst thing on earth,” Allen said following the event. He said he enjoyed the process of writing and researching his own speech better than actually reciting it.

Students in seventh through ninth grade delivered some of history’s most well-known speeches, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Farewell Address.”

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of tears and anxiety,” Isaac Hallgrimson said.

On Wednesday, students in kindergarten through sixth grade recited speeches along with bible verses, which increased in difficulty as they progress in school.

“It’s so encouraging to see their little minds are not taken for granted,” Hallgrimson said. “Every year they impress me.”

The seniors will continue to work on their speech — their capstone speech, which they write, orate and defend during their senior defense.

“It’s about expression,” Hallgrimson said. “They talk about something they believe in, start doing research, create an anti-thesis and finally use it for their capstone.”

During both days of the speech meet a panel of judges who rated the presentations based on expression, platform presence, voice and speech.

Robert Reagan, Lilly Schmitz and Brian Turner were Wednesday’s adjudicators and Steve Loosley, Rev. Jon Nutter and Miranda Triplett listened to Thursday’s performances.

“I look for a connection between the words and the meaning of those words,” Triplett said. “They have to have emotion behind it, giving it some life.”

The rhetoric competition was won by junior Heidi Duclos with the speech “The Good and Evil” about God’s omnipotence.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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