Individual Forensics earns honors

by Kaylee Bandstra/

Ten PC students participated in sixteen events at the  Individual Speech District competition in Pekin on Sat., Feb 29. Nine of those students in thirteen events received a One rating, advancing to State competition that would have happened in Grinnell on Sat., March 14. However, under the circumstances, plans changed.

Because of Coronavirus restrictions, the speakers selected were not able to perform in the usual way. “(The State competition) was supposed to be at Grinnell High School, but that was cancelled with individual schools given the opportunity to run their own ‘mini-State” competition and hire IHSSA judges,” said forensics director Marlo Van Puersem. “We did that with Pella High School speech that Saturday (March 14) yet before everything shut down on Monday.  So at least all the students got to perform at ‘State’.”

The IHSSA judges that were hired gave feedback and selected students who they thought would be a fit for All-State. Freshman Leah Osborn (Literary Program), sophomore Trent Van Gilst (Storytelling), and senior Emily Van Beek (Storytelling and After Dinner) were nominated to perform at the All-State event, which also could not be held because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Van Peursem noted that Van Beek’s nomination in individual speech was noteworthy in another way. “Emily VB was nominated to All-State in all four of her speech events this year:  two in Large Group–Readers Theatre and One Act–and two in Individual Events–After Dinner and Storytelling. Quite an achievement and honor,” said Van Puersem.

Van Beek was surprised by her success, and sad that she cannot celebrate it as others have in the past, at the All-State Festival at UNI in Cedar Falls.  “I had never made it to All-State in Individuals, so I wasn’t expecting any honors this year, let alone four total. It feels amazing to have made school history in a program that has meant so much to me over the past four years,” said Van Beek. “I only wish I could have performed at the All-State Individuals Festival; it really would have been the icing on the cake.”

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