By Jessica Badyna & Grace McCormick
The speech team has made a bold comeback from its previously dormant state.
Mr. Thomas J. Pabst held the position of head speech coach from 1970 until 2007. He worked with assistant coach, Mr. Frederick Douse from 1988 to 1991 and with part-time assistant coach, Stephen Harper from 1993 to 1997.
In those 37 years, 27 students qualified and/or placed in the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) national competition. Many other students on the speech team wall of fame were district, state or regional champions.
After Pabst retired, the team was on a nine year hiatus until Mr. Jon Rehwaldt became a permanent teacher in 2014. Rehwaldt had interest in bringing the speech team back, and when Ms. Nicole Chisley became principal in 2015, she was able to gather resources to help Rehwaldt get the speech team up and running.
“When Ms. Chisley came on board, she really made it a priority to get the team off the ground. She was very supportive,” Rehwaldt said.
During the 2015-2016 speech season, Rehwaldt and assistant coach Mr. James Del Priore took regular Snider speech competitors Merab Omoregie, Jennifer Cruz, Harrison Snyder and Sylvia Singh to state competition. Of the four competitors who went to state, Snyder and Omoregie placed in quarter finals and Omoregie broke to semi-finals.
“Last season Snider’s team did very well. We started with a bunch of novices that had no experience, and ended up with a solid performance in the state meets,” Rehwaldt said. “We were competing against some of the teams that send kids to nationals every year, and we were able to leave a mark.”
Rehwaldt and the rest of the team agree they have learned a great deal in one year, and have learned different strategies and tips to impress judges.
This year, Rehwaldt will take on the speech team by himself. He has assigned coaching responsibilities to experienced speakers from last year.
“This year we will be using the experience from last year to inform new participants about what needs to be done, as well as push veterans to advance their skills to the next level,” Rehwaldt said. “That is going to mean a lot of self-evaluation, using our resources well and responding quickly to the changing landscape of competitive speech.”
In addition to working hard to meet expectations and deadlines, students make friends, even with people from other teams.
“Its really fun to go in and talk to your fellow competition. Everyone tries to be your friend,” Zoe Freiburger, sophomore, speech team veteran said.
Snider will host a meet on December 17. Rehwaldt has the responsibility of organizing the meet, which includes completing paperwork and finding sponsers to fund team resources. That does not deter his enthusiasm.
Rehwaldt said, “It’s going to be a blast.”