LEXINGTON — At the annual KESDA competition, which was held March 9 through March 11 in Lexington, Hazard Middle School gave an excellent performance against teams from throughout every region in the state, including the major cities. Two HMS students placed top 10 in the Trithon, which is the honor given to competitiors for overall performance. Placing in the Trithon is extremely difficult. Ben Handshoe claimed 10th place in the Trithon. Justin Witt won top honors overall with 1st place in the Trithon. To sum the Trithon up quickly, this would be like the Oscars giving an award each year to the person who won the most Oscars.
The Kentucky Educational Speech and Drama Association honors top student talent in the state every year. Competitiors face-off in both dramatic and forensic (public speaking) categories. Schools gather points based on their team members’ performances in each category for the opportunity to claim overall victory.
Witt’s route to the top of the Trithon included finishing 5th for the state in Broadcasting, 4th overall in Interpretation and a shared 1st place honor in Group Interp. In Declamation, Justin Witt was crowned State Champion and received the 1st place medal.
This means that no middle school competitor from Pikeville to Paducah, or Covington to the Cumberland Gap, ranked higher in Speech and Drama at this year’s KESDA than Justin Witt, not only in Declamation, but also, overall.
Witt, however, was not the only state champion on his team. Ella Cobb and Zane Deaton brought home 1st place, championship, medals in Duo Acting. The Duo category takes not only talent, but also teamwork to win. In their route to 1st place glory, these two faced unbelievable competition, from their own school. Jacob Fields and Ben Handshoe of HMS finished 2nd place for the state in Duo Acting. This means one third of all state finalist in Duo were from Hazard Middle School, with the championship and runner-up medals awarded to Hazard.
Ben Handshoe also achieved 3rd place in the state in Exteperaneous Speaking. Katie Combs finaled in Poetry, finishing 5th. Zoe Karelis claimed 5th place in Prose. In the Storytelling category, Jacob Fields claimed 2nd place with teammate Ella Cobb trailing closely behind in 3rd.
As for Group Interp., it was mentioned earlier that HMS was crowned State Champion. The group that won it all consisted of Ella Cobb, Katie Combs, Zane Deaton, Jacob Fields and Justin Witt. These students worked together and claimed ultimate glory over kids from Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Northern Kentucky and the group that finished behind them at 2nd place in the state from… Hazard Middle School. Once again, HMS competed against itself in the finals. The group claiming 2nd place overall consisted of Katie Braman, Zoe Karelis, Sky Slone, Shayla Stidham. and Lily Williams.
Hazard Middle School brought home 2nd place in the Open Sweepsteaks and 1st place in the whole state for Team Efficiency. Once again, all of these medals were earned in the KESDA State Competition.
Michelle Combs is the Hazard Middle School speech coach. Parent volunteers also help with the program. Our region of the state has developed a powerhouse presence in Speech and Drama and Hazard Middle School is a prime example of how that has happened.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.