Fear of public speaking is Americans’ most common phobia, but two of Hermiston High School’s speech and debate club members overcame that fear to place in a state competition last weekend.

Beckie Wyse placed third in novice prose reading and Stephen Evans Renteria placed fourth in open prose reading at the Hap Hingston Forensics Invitational at Pacific University. More than 400 students from 25 different Oregon high schools competed in the tournament.

Wyse, a high school senior, said she has plenty of experience onstage as an actress but this was the first time she had tried her hand at speech and debate.

“In drama often you’re acting with someone, so you have someone to go off of, but in speech and debate it’s all on you,” she said.

For the prose reading competition Wyse read a satirical version of Little Red Riding Hood from “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” by James Finn Gardner, making up unique voices for each of the characters. She also competed in a category called “Humorous Interp,” where she recited from memory a version of the Three Little Pigs re-imagined as a Shakespeare play.

“That was probably the harder one, because it was a lot of words I haven’t used before,” she said. “I couldn’t ad-lib if I got off track.”

She said she is glad she joined the club this year.

“Speech and debate is tons of fun, but it scares people because they think they’re going to be judged,” she said. “But really it’s just a warm experience that teaches you to speak better.”

Megan Green, Madeline Bartley and Mary Baumeister also represented Hermiston in the competition.


Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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