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Why should you join speech?

Minh Luong, a professor at Yale University, has studied the role extracurricular activities have played in student success at different stages in people's lives, and he concluded that those lessons learned from high school forensics have played a stronger role in student success than any others. Several additional studies conducted over the past decade reached that same conclusion: forensics provides students the skills needed to be successful both in their high school careers, get into higher-quality colleges, achieve higher grades there, and then develop into outstanding leaders and managers in their professional lives. These students who competed in forensics throughout their high school careers on average scored higher on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, had higher high school attendance and graduation rates, and had higher acceptance rates to top tier colleges and universities.


The lessons of effective critical analysis and communication, in particular, have been identified as critical to students' academic success, and the unique approach to these lessons forensics offers prepare students to use them in ways no other activity or course can.

Alumni Testimonials


Steven Elliott is a 2010 graduate of Lakeville North High School, where he competed on the Speech Team for four years. In his senior year, he placed fourth at the NFL National tournament in International Extemporaneous Speaking. He graduated in May 2013 from American University's prestigious School of International Studies:


My success in speech not only helped me get scholarships to attend college, but also aided tremendously in getting jobs and internships. I never felt uncomfortable in an interview because I treated it as a unique form of public speaking—something I knew I was good at. Without speech, I would not have been able to afford college, nor would I have gotten the opportunity to intern at two major lobbying firms in Washington, DC. Without speech, I would never have received an opportunity to study at the London School of Economics, and would not have been able to volunteer at the 2012 Olympic Games. I would not have been offered fellowships at several of the nation’s top graduate schools. I could not have even dreamed of having these opportunities because I would have lacked the research skills needed to write my college papers, the speaking talent necessary to “wow” professors and employers, and the drive and passion for success that I gained during my four years on the Lakeville North Speech Team. I owe the coaching staff of the Lakeville North Speech Team an enormous debt of gratitude for transforming an awkward, pudgy 9th grader into an accomplished speaker who was comfortable presenting his ideas in front of a Nobel Prize winner for a course this summer. 



Peter Zhou is a 2004 graduate of Lakeville High School, where he competed on the Speech Team for three years.  He went on to graduate from Harvard University in 2007, and he is currently a Managing Director at an investment firm in New York:


The confidence and composure I developed through 3 years of high school Speech have been crucial to my career as an investor. My days are often packed with meeting new companies, attending conferences, and pitching ideas. I can't make it through even a single work day without using what I learned in Speech. In my industry, you could be the smartest guy and know everything about every company yet still fail because of poor speaking skills - knowledge is worthless if you can't effectively communicate.



Travis Rother is a 2000 graduate of Lakeville High School, where he competed on the Speech Team for four years. After graduating from St. Olaf College in 2004, he went on to begin a career in teaching and coaching speech at Chaska High School and later Chanhassen High School when it opened:


To say that Lakeville Speech changed my life would be a cliché, but it is incredibly fitting. The relationships that developed with my coaches and teammates are bonds that will never be broken…I am just full of clichés. My coaches became mentors, wrote recommendations that helped me get into my 1st choice in college, and now they are my colleagues. I didn’t know what I wanted when I joined the Lakeville Speech Team (I think I had dreams of winning awards), but the rewards for being on the team have resulted in a career and life that I would never change. Currently, I am a teacher and Head Speech Coach at Chanhassen High School. Lakeville Speech may be some of our biggest competition, but I always cheer for the LNHS team to have success! The communication skills you learn from being on the team are great! However, the true lessons in perseverance, teamwork, dedication, and pride are skills that will help you in ANY walk of life.

Parent Testimonials

Molly Rossini, parent of Matt Mills (Class of 2009):


My son participated in speech all four years of high school and became one of the team captains his senior year. Over the course of his four years in speech, my son learned the art of great speaking, developed lasting friendships, thrived in an environment of teamwork, and practiced respect for sport and for others. My son describes his time on Coach Baese’s team as the single defining experience of his time in high school. As a parent, speech gave me a fabulous forum in which to be involved in my son’s life. I became a speech judge and looked forward to each weekend my son and I participated in a tournament. I cannot say enough good things about the coaches and volunteers who support the Lakeville North speech team; each of them gives wholeheartedly to the kids involved in this wonderful sport!



Hap Stokes, parent of Kyle Stokes (Class of 2007), Charlie Stokes (Class of 2010), and Thomas Stokes (Class of 2016):


Before my kids joined Speech, I didn’t know what it was.  It’s an activity, but since they have teams and competition, is it more like a sport?


Imagine a place where dexterity of body, resourcefulness of mind, and discipline of character are combined to develop skills that will last a lifetime.  Where those who are bested are not defeated, learning respect rather than resentment.  Where the individual learns to team, the team learns to collaborate and the collaboration becomes art.  If it is a sport, it is a sport where no one loses; if it is an activity, it creates bonds like a family.  Either way, it is a place to find your voice.



Ann Thomas, parent of Taylor Thomas (Class of 2010):


The skills students learn in speech; to form an opinion, to find information to support and articulate the opinion, to think on one’s feet, to ‘feel’ a part and verbally impart that emotion, are all critical skills that help students in whatever endeavor or career path they choose.  My daughter’s high school speech experience opened college doors to Mock Trial and radio broadcasting, which are preparing her for the real world. And it's not just my daughter who has benefitted from speech. In my own work as a consultant, I recently met with three individuals from another consulting group who were particularly effective in presenting their ideas. When I queried them about their backgrounds, all three shared that they participated in speech in high school. Speech makes a difference!

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