John Hallemeier places eighth in Missouri State Speech and Debate tournament

By Jake Chiarelli

Hallemeier stands with coaches Theresa Maher and Whitney Harper
Hallemeier stands with coach Theresa Maher and last semester’s coach Whitney Harper (file photo)

On Saturday, April 20, John Hallemeier, along with other FHN Speech and Debate members, participated  in the Missouri State Speech and Debate competition on the Mizzou campus in Columbia. Hallemeier competed in the Humorous Interpretation category. His subject was “Disney Mom Group Therapy.” Hallemeier has competed in Speech and Debate since freshman year, and has competed in various competitions throughout the nation.

“I’m very happy to be one of the eight best high school speakers in the state,” Hallemeier said. “I found out at Prom that night, and rewarded myself by sleeping.”

Speech and Debate competitions can range from two-person formats, like Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debates, to speeches like Poetry, and Drama and Humorous interpretations. Each competitor can choose what category they can compete in, and participate in professional or local venues through the school’s speech and debate sponsor. FHN’s speech and debate teacher and sponsor, Theresa Maher, encourages her students to join the club, and compete against other schools.

“The skills that they obtain here will them in the future and careers.” Maher said. “I’m proud of John. It’s a huge accomplishment, and only two of my kids have ever made it to Finals in 10 years, so it’s a big deal.

According to Maher, it has been eight years since an FHSD student won a State title in a Speech category, which was Bryan Yarde from FHN. The other competitors from North were Brittany Steck, who competed in Storytelling, Molly Kube, who competed in Prose, and Hallemeier. Notably, FHHS senior Shelby Steingraeber won 1st place in Radio Speaking and placed 3rd in Original Oratory

“I think just the honor of getting to state was the best feeling,” Kube said. “John gets to go to Nationals, and we have an interpretation showcase so we can perform one last time this year.”