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Yellowjackets Speech Expo Saturday, April 7 at HOTL

The Perham Speech Team is having its annual Speech expo Saturday, April 7 at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. Breakfast and a silent auction begin at 8:30 a.m. followed by awards and speeches by the top three students. (submitted photo).

On the classroom door of room 137 in the senior hallway of Perham High School, hangs a plain white sign, that states simply in black lettering, "What people fear more than death, we do for fun."

And that's what the 32-member Yellowjacket Speech Team has done almost every weekend since January, the thing the majority of people fear more than death.

Sophomore Andrew Jacobson has been on the speech team since 7th grade and said he didn't have that fear because he didn't know what he was getting into when he started out.

"The usual comment from people when I tell them I'm on the speech team is that they can't do that, get up and speak in front of people" he said.

The community can see the team in action at the annual speech team expo Saturday, April 7, at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. Breakfast and a silent auction begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by awards and then speeches by the team's top three performers over the season.

Perham High School Speech Team Coach, Kasey Wacker, said when she talks to the kids about the benefits of being on the speech team she focuses on the academic aspects, but also that every student has the opportunity to be heard.

"They always have a voice and the ability to have a choice in what they say. I think the individual nature of speech is what keeps kids coming back," she said.

The team was also coached by Trisha Irvinie Elena Weller, and had help during the year from David Howey, Becca Huebsch and Sam Greene.

Despite not having any seniors, Wacker said the team has done quite well, and she added the sophomores have shown tremendous leadership.

"Our tenth graders care alot about the team, and want to see that everyone is seeing value in what they are doing," Wacker said. "I can't wait to see what they do in the next few years."

Wacker sees the speech team as an opportunity for those who need a creative outlet.

"For some, this is their sole activity and it gives them something to be involved in, it combines academics and the arts," she said.

Other team members are involved in a wide range of activities and with tournaments on Saturdays, she feels it's an activity that allows students to be well rounded.

At subsections, the team had four members place first in their categories. Sections are April 14, in Pillager.

One of them was Olivia McNair, a sophomore. She started as a 7th grader while in Melrose. She said she didn't really know much about speech, but she thought she would give it a try. What hooked her was the opportunity to express herself and hopefully inspire others, which she does in the category, Creative Expression.

"It's one of the least restrictive categories, the only guideline is you have to write the speech yourself," McNair explained. "It allows you to be whoever you want to be and share that with people."

She said she also enjoys being on the speech team because of the people, who she describes as a diverse, outgoing group, which she finds refreshing.

McNair would encourage others to join the speech team for a variety of reasons.

"It looks great on a resume, the ability to speak in front of a group is a great skill to have, and the team aspect is great, they become like a second family," she said.