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Thursday, May 5, 2016

State speech to draw thousands to Spencer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pulling it off requires a community-wide volunteer effort

Parking cars, providing programs, and promoting pulled pork sandwiches are just some of the jobs up for grabs every time Spencer High School hosts the Iowa High School Speech Association Northwest State Large Group Speech Contest.

Not to mention about 2,000 high school students doing everything from mime and one-act plays to short films and improvisational scenes. In addition to those performers, 42 judges and at least 28 room hosts and timekeepers are needed to support them.

In all, up to 200 individuals are needed to greet an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 thespians and fans to Spencer.

"We can't thank and appreciate the people who have done a great job of stepping up to volunteer enough," Spencer Activities Director Roger Johnson said.

Johnson, his secretary Marilyn McGaffin and speech coach Larry Untiet are charged with organizing a smooth-flowing event every time it comes to the Clay County seat, which is about every three years. They first met prior to Christmas break to discuss preliminary details.

"We pulled out things from 2009, looked at concession stand notes and started our preparations," Johnson said.

Those notes showed $6,283 generated from the suggested $3 donation for entry and at least $10,000 in income from concession stands and vending machines.

Event goers will have a choice between the school's regular concession stand, an a la carte stand in the lunch room, a Godfather's pizza stand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a sub and chips option offered by the after prom committee from noon to 2 p.m. and vending machine snacks and drinks.

Of course, patronizing local businesses is also encouraged.

"We tell the chamber to let the restaurants know there will be people here," Johnson said. "People will stop at other stores as well. The economic impact, even though it's not an overnight stay, is huge for Spencer and Spencer schools."

Making sure everyone gets into the school safely depends on managing the parking lots, which individuals are paid about $500 collectively to do.

"One thing we've done is the logistics par of getting 60 to 80 buses and vans here ... in an area they can get out of that doesn't restrict spectator parking," Johnson said.

As spectators enter the school, they will be greeted by about 40 donation table workers throughout the day. The district's 10 paid custodians will also take turns working to ensure the school stays clean throughout the day.

"We certainly appreciate that way back in the fall, they put this on their docket," Johnson said. "They're all graciously going to give us some time, so that's a huge plus."

Staffing the concession stands with about 40 volunteers is largely Untiet's responsibility, on top of coordinating each of the 14 rooms, working students from 94 schools into the schedule and also coaching 69 students in 14 events himself.

"I have to take all of the results from the four district contests and coordinate that into the schedule," Untiet said. "Most of them are in two different areas, so you have to coordinate so times don't conflict."

Each room includes three judges, and two shifts of hosts and a timekeeper.

"That takes a while, too, because they have to be certified by the Iowa High School Speech Association," Untiet said of the judges. "You have to make sure they're not judging the same thing they judged at district speech so they're not seeing any of the same kids. ... Potentially, I would have 28 timers and 28 room hosts, but some people are kind enough to volunteer for the entire day, so that helps."

While Untiet is well aware of the amount of work required to host the event, throughout 36 years of experience, he believes it is well worth it.

"It's a lot of work for the director," he said. "But, at the same time, it's one less bus ride and you get a nice, well-balanced schedule, too."

*Both Untiet and Johnson are still open to receiving more volunteers.

Interested persons should contact them at the High School by calling 262-1700. The complete schedule of events is available at www.ihssa.org.

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Nice story, when is this event happening?

-- Posted by A. View Point on Thu, Feb 2, 2012, at 8:07 AM
Response by Gabe Licht:
State Speech will begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning at Spencer High School. Thanks for pointing out my omission.

The Large Group Speech Contest is this Saturday, Feb. 4.

-- Posted by cbcc on Thu, Feb 2, 2012, at 11:08 AM

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