“It’s gotten a lot more exuberant,” Hallemeier said. “I’ve learned to change it up a little bit every once in awhile to keep it fresh in my mind. I really think it’s gotten better.”
Every year, hundreds of high school Speech and Debate students from around the United States compete at the tournament. This year’s tournament was held in Indianapolis, Indiana from June 10 to June 15. The last time North sent a student was in 2005.
“I love seeing that many people excited about Speech and Debate,” coach Theresa Maher said. “I love being in the atmosphere with people who share the same passion as we do. The level of talent is just incredible.”
During the preliminary rounds on Monday and Tuesday, Hallemeier competed with his humorous interpretation piece against over 200 other high school students. The mood in the rooms was serious. Judges stared blank-faced at each hopeful competitor.
“When you have such a high level of talent coming from so many different people into one place, it’s incredible,” senior and fellow Speech team member Krista Simon said. “It all comes down to the judging.” The stakes were high. The finalist in each category receives a scholarship for college. But the journey to the top is not easy. After nine rounds, Hallemeier was eliminated. But he was not out of the game yet. Hallemeier, and others who had not made the cuts, had the opportunity to re-register for supplemental events, such as storytelling. Maher signed Hallemeier up to compete in a category he had never competed in: impromptu.
“I think John did amazing,” Simon said. “I’m extremely proud of him, and I hope he can do it again.”