HS speech program features high-level participation from each class
Thirty-one years ago, when Brad Nesbitt took over as director of the Alta High School speech program, it took one car to transport the five participants to contest. Today, Nesbitt has to line up a fleet of vehicles to convey the 100 to 112 students.
This number may not seem extraordinarily high to some, but considering that Alta High School's enrollment is approximately 165, the participation rate is impressive.
On Tuesday, the official kick-off to speech season began with the annual breakfast at Summit Evangelic Free Church.
Nesbitt addresses his group and tells them that in his travels across the state he is often asked about the size of his team. When questioned on how he is able to obtain these high numbers, Nesbitt responds that they are in large part based on what the program offers in return.
"You learn confidence in all aspects of life. You hold your head up to apply for that job, you learn how to communicate, to handle pressure and you gain confidence," he said.
What is surprising to most is not only the sheer numbers, but the fact that he has so many male participants. He notes that there is no division between athletes and speech only students and that they all work together for a common goal.
The students realize that communication is important for all parts of their lives. They can learn a lot from participation in sports, but they can also gain valuable insight and lifelong lessons from speech.
While appreciating what Nesbitt is offering, the students are in it for another reason as well the fact that Nesbitt has made it a fun activity.
Brooke Jarrison, Christine Sand and Brittany Corlew, all seniors and four-year participants in large group and individual speech, discuss what features make the speech program so appealing
They state that Mr. Nesbitt takes input from the students and gives them some say in what they want to individually perform. They go on to add that he will find a spot for everyone, no matter the level of participation the student finds interesting.
Chris Schmitz, also a senior, is a great example of just this concept. Chris has been a member of the speech team for four years, has been to state speech all four years and to all state one year. He accomplished all of this without ever speaking a word.
When asked if he was going to try out for a speaking part this year, Chris smiles and says "probably not." He is happy and having fun just the way things are.
Nesbitt closes out the gathering with a gentle reminder that morning practices begin at 6:58 a.m. (all in good fun and a time which the students are likely to remember). He also reminds them that taco Saturday will be held on Jan. 12, during pre-district practice at the Roxy Theater, and assures them that this all you can eat feast of 400-600 tacos should be plenty to satisfy all appetites.
However, Britanny Corlew gives a simple parting remark that simply provides the best explanation of them all for the high volume turn out in the Alta speech program. "Mr. Nesbitt is a really good coach."