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Irish speech team steps out Thursday

Rosemount High School speech students will have a rare opportunity to step into the spotlight Thursday evening when the school holds its first speech showcase.

Speech competitions are always open to the public, but they don't draw anywhere near the crowd of an Irish football game. Outside of event finals, RHS coach Carol Sylvester said, students usually don't compete in front of more than a handful of people.

The idea behind the showcase is to let students show off performances they have spent months perfecting.

Apple Valley High School has held a similar showcase for years, and Lakeville North is offering one this year.

"It's a good way for them to showcase in a format that's not a competitive setting," Sylvester said. "I think the people who come to watch will find it a fun experience."

Sylvester actually had little to do with the planning of this week's showcase. The idea started with the team's captains, and students have done most of the organizing.

Junior Alekhya Tallapaka said the idea for the showcase came from looking at photos from some of the other schools that hold similar events. RHS has a strong speech tradition, but the school is sometimes overshadowed because it competes against the likes of Eagan, Eastview and Apple Valley, which regularly produce state and national champions.

Rosemount's Nicole Hutchinson recently finished first in the storytelling category at a tournament in Cannon Falls. She has qualified for the state tournament.

District 196 students claimed 35 of the 39 this year's state-qualifying spots in Section 3AA.

"A lot of people don't realize what it is we do, why we wear professional suits and get up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning," Tallapaka said. "It will be really fun to actually show people what it is we're doing."

Thursday's showcase, scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. in the RHS performing arts center, will feature performances from six of the RHS varsity members along with snippets of pieces from the novices and underclassmen. Food and drinks will be available.