The NBAPS School Board recognized North Branch Area High School speech team coach Mindy Lattimore and her team for their strong season at the Thursday regular school board meeting.
Activities and Community Education Director Brett Carlson lauded Lattimore and her team before asking her to address the board to talk about the team’s season.
Lattimore said this year there were 43 students on the speech team, and some of the team’s highlights included taking second out of 17 teams at the Ogilvie meet, placing first of eight teams at their home meet and garnering a third-place finish out of 15 teams at the Zimmerman meet.
Lattimore added, “At the Mississippi 8 Conference Speech meet, we had three students earn Conference Champion honors, four students earn All-Conference honors, and five students earn All-Conference Honorable Mention.”
She also noted the biggest individual honor of the season went to Rebekah Ries, who qualified at the Section 7AA Speech Meet in Grand Rapids to represent North Branch at the State Speech Meet in the extemporaneous speaking category.
“In extemporaneous speaking, students have the option to choose, from an envelope, national topics or topics about international topics,” Lattimore explained. “They get to pick three questions, and out of those three questions they choose one, put the other two back in the envelope, and then they have half an hour to come up with a speech about how they would answer that question.
“After half an hour, Rebekah can walk into a room and give a 6-7 minute speech without looking at one note card or anything in front of her.
“At the section finals, the final round of sections, out of eight people in the round, Rebekah was the only one of the female gender representing. She was up against eight guys in power suits and totally knocked everybody’s socks off.”
Carlson explained the questions students choose from in the category are designed to be tough.
“The topics aren’t like, ‘What’s your favorite activity to do?’ or ‘What are you looking forward to about summer?’” he said.
Ries told the School Board and the audience her question was “How would I close the achievement gap in high school education?”
Carlson said Ries giving a state-qualifying speech on such a topic was impressive.
“You had 30 minutes to prepare for that,” he said. “I know there are people who have spent a lot more years (addressing that question) and they’re still trying to answer that question.”
Carlson also noted Lattimore was named the Section 7AA speech coach of the year at the section meet.
“Equally as amazing as the kids’ performance is their coach,” Carlson said. “Mindy was recognized by her peers as being an outstanding speech coach. It’s something we have known for a long time. To me, as a coach, when you can be recognized by your peers, that’s when you know you’ve been doing everything right.”