Wylie’s Academic Team had a pretty impressive spring. The team won the UIL district championship, the regional championship and advanced 12 students to the state meet, where three students placed in the top six in five different events.
Ayden Gertiser finished 2nd in the state in math, 4th in number sense and 5th in calculator. Kerby Mason won a silver medal at state in poetry interpretation, and Melia Messer finished 5th in the same event. Melia was the regional champion in the event.
Other students who qualified for state included Caleb Speights who was regional champion in informative speaking, and Connor Brown who qualified in two events — current issues and social studies. Nathan Vincent qualified for state in computer science, and Wesley Horn qualified in prose interpretation.
Mason, Melia, Wesley and Caleb also were part of the one-act play that qualified for state, and Caleb also qualified as part of the debate team.
Mason said competing in poetry interpretation allowed him to use his acting skills honed in Wylie’s theatre program. Competitors take a piece of poetry and try to bring it to life for their audience.
“It is a great chance to take on roles that are super hard to act out and really take you to the limit,” Mason said.
Prose interpretation is similar.
“We find a piece of literature and take it and interpret that piece of prose,” Wesley said. “We bring life to the prose. Poetry is more rhythmic and flowing, and prose is more theatrical. I love taking a blank slate with no personality to it and finding the places and the areas and the moments that you as an actor can bring to life.”
Caleb said he worked hard to be ready for his informative speaking competition; however, he could only do so much since competitors don’t know the specific topic until the competition.
“You have 30 minutes to prepare a speech,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to how to formulate a speech. The only preparation is practicing your speaking and being very good at pulling ideas out of thin air.”
Between the two events that Connor participated in, he said he preferred social studies because you can do a little bit more to prepare.
“You can be more specific and intentional at studying for it,” he said. “We have a social studies’ packet that had a large compilation of material that I studied. And I had to read a book. You try to analyze the themes in the book. For current events, I just got on my phone and read the news.”
Caleb said he learned a lot from competing in UIL events, and some of those skills will come in handy when he goes off to college this coming fall.
“Developing these skills from informational speaking is a really helpful skill to learn all across the board,” he said. “It puts people at a great advantage over their peers. I will have that public speaking capability.”