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ST. MARYS — One local student is gearing up for the next phase in regional speech contest.
Morgan Henschen, a sixth-grade student at St. Marys Middle School, has already given more public speeches than most people give in a lifetime. Morgan is competing in the Eagles God, Flag and Country Speech zone competition in Wapakoneta on Saturday.
Students in Bridget Sturwold’s sixth-grade class were given the assignment to write a speech that could be presented for the competition, but actually participating was optional.
Henschen, who competed last year and made it as far as the city level, decided not only to enter, but to make it a goal to compete at the national level.
“I thought I had a good speech,” Morgan said. “I was sitting in church one day, and our priest, Father Barry, he was talking about how to earn your life.”
It took Morgan a week to put together, and since then she has presented it to various people and judges more than 20 times. Morgan does not shy from a crowd, but is confident and good at talking to people.
“”I’m in 4-H, too, so it’s kind of easy,” she said. “You have interviews, and then you have to answer questions, because I show goats, too. You do it for pre-fair judging.”
Morgan first had to present in front of her teacher and the other students who were entering into the competition. Presenting in front of her peers doesn’t make her nervous, either.
“It was a Friday that we did it, so I think Monday or Tuesday we got the results,” Morgan said. “They take the top ten out of the 10 to 11-year-olds.”
The top 10 speeches from area middle schools were chosen to be presented at the city level next, where she presented in front of the other winners from her school and for those from Holy Rosary at the St. Marys Eagles.
This time, she had to wait just ten minutes before she found out she, out of around 20 students, was chosen to compete at the district level.
“I think I get better every time I do it because I have more confidence in myself,” she said. “There were a few people I thought could have beat me.”
The next step on the path leading her closer to nationals was the district competition at the Minster Eagles.
“There were only, like, three people there,” Morgan said of her age group.
She competed against students from both Wapakoneta and New Knoxville.
“My next (competition) is zone, then state, and then I’m halfway there, and then nationals,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s good friend, Clare Caywood, also a student at St. Marys Middle School, won first place in the National competition last year, and Morgan went along for the ride. The event was in Grand Rapids, Mich., where students presented in front of the biggest audience yet.
“It was really big,” Morgan said. “You know how our auditorium looks? It was like two of them.”
Seeing her friend compete in front of so many people only made her more determined to get there herself.
Morgan prepared even over the Easter holiday, as her next test, the zone competition, is coming up on Saturday.
“Yesterday at my Easter party at my grandma and grandpa’s, I presented it there, to practice,” she said.
Morgan said her favorite part of the whole competition is presenting her speech and getting the results to see whether she jumped the hurdle each round presents. Morgan said she has learned a lot from listening to the other students’ speeches.
“Last year I did it about soldiers in the military,” she said.
“Every year, as soon as I get done with my speech, I try to listen to things that are going on and see what’s happening ... what problems we are having and I try to base it on that. I think I improved a lot, because after going to Nationals and listening to all the other peoples’ speeches, I kind of came up with an idea of how to write my speech this year.”