State speech contest announces school awards

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Thirty Wisconsin schools received recognition for their overall performance at this month’s State Speech Festival. The event, hosted at UW Madison since it was started 127 years ago, was held this year at DeForest Area High School as well as online.

This year, 2,474 students in 1,892 entries, representing 306 schools advanced to the State Festival. Schools had the opportu nity for their students to participate in person or by submitting a video of their performance; 80% of schools had in person entries and 36% had online entries. Overall, 17% of schools had entries in both divisions.

Adjudicators rated each student or performing group to deter

mine a medal award, and the top 5% of medal earning schools are recognized with Excellence in Speech Awards, with the school and coach each presented with a plaque. This year, 15 schools earned this honor, including Prescott High School under the direction of coach Tanya Sponholz.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, WHSFA, like many state activities associations, sought alternative approaches to holding speech contests, working with such organizations as the National Speech & Debate Association and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). As UWMadison continued a suspension of multiple day events using classroom space on cam pus, the WHSFA sought a nearby location, and DeForest High School’s Speech coach, Tom August volunteered.

“We are grateful to Tom August and the rest of DeForest Area High School’s staff, students, and administration for graciously hosting us at their newly renovated campus,” said WHSFA Ex

ecutive Director Adam Jacobi. “The amount of praise and appre ciation expressed by coaches and students in attendance this year was overwhelmingly positive.”

This is the second year in a row PHS Forensics has won this honor and also third in four years (the 2020 season was cut short and the State Festival was cancelled.) Overall, PHS Forensics has won this award eight times in the last 14 years.

Submitted by Wisconsin High School Forensic Association

April 26, 2022