Two Decorah High School groups were selected as banner recipients at this year’s All-State Speech Festival held in Ames over the weekend: a Musical Theater performance of “tick, tick…BOOM!” and a Radio Broadcasting performance entitled “KWAK.” This is the first time in school history that Decorah has won a banner in the area of Musical Theater and the second time in school history that Decorah has won a banner in Radio Broadcasting.

Approximately 90 Decorah High School students made the trip to Ames over the weekend to perform at the festival at the Iowa State Center on the ISU campus.

Sixteen Decorah High School events were nominated as outstanding performances and joined other elite speech students from across the state to share their performances with a professional critic.

At the All-State Speech Festival, each critic selects one performance at the end of the day and awards a banner to that entry, signifying them as “best of center” in that category. In the eyes of the critic, the banner winner represents a “state championship” quality performance that stands out above the rest.

Cast members of the musical theater performance of “tick, tick…BOOM!,” directed by Gabriel Twedt and Carrie Kauffman, include Libby Phillips, Hayley Stowe, Gwen Thompson, Oliver Brummel, Ezra Vorvick, Connor Evelsizer, Lucas Hanson, and Bethany Hanson.

The critic praised the musical theater cast for their creative storytelling, dynamic musical acting skills, and a “performance that stuck with her throughout the day.” The critic was curious about how the story of “tick, tick…BOOM!” would be told, as it is not traditional musical theater storytelling. The critic loved the way that the focus was on the ensemble, even though most of the songs are traditionally written for 1-3 performers. This piece told the story of musical theater writer Jonathan Larson while exploring the themes of living a life governed by love and passion instead of by a fear of failure.

Cast members of the Radio Broadcasting “KWAK,” directed by Gabriel Twedt and Carrie Kauffman, include Tommy Hammel, Hannah Arendt, Lily Sandhorst, Alex McGohan, Jerald Thompson, Addison Wicklund, and Camryn Holland.

The radio broadcasting follows the Waddleton duck family as they deliver news from the pond at the “quack of dawn.” However, as the broadcast unfolds, the family starts to fall apart, all while delivering fowl-related news and commercials for duck dating apps. The critic praised “KWAK” for the memorable writing, perfect vocal delivery, and delightful sound mixing. The critic explained that once they heard the performance, “there was no other choice for the critic’s choice. It was undeniable. Perfection.”

“It is incredible to be able to tell stories that make an impact. Whether it’s the tragically beautifully story of an important musical theater writer or the pun-filled adventures of a family of ducks, our students work hard to deliver memorable storytelling,” speech directors Molly Holkesvik, Gabriel Twedt, Carrie Kauffman, Rachel Breitenbach-Dirks, Lyra McKnight, and Annika Krieg shared. “A big thank you to all involved in the fire truck parade, the ringing of the victory bell, and for supporting all of our performances throughout the season. Saturday night was a true celebration of our entire speech team.”

Tick tick...Boom

“Tick, Tick…Boom” photo ID

Front row (l-r): Hayley Stowe, Bethany Hanson, Gwen Thompson, Libby Phillips

Back row (l-r): Oilver Brummel, Ezra Vorvick, Lucas Hanson, Connor Evelsizer

KWAK Banner

“KWAK” photo ID

(l-r): Addison Wicklund, Lily Sandhorst, Hannah Arendt, Camryn Holland, Tommy Hammel, Alex McGohan. 

Absent from photo: Jerald Thompson