Another speech season is over! Well, mostly. We do still have to do the banquet (which is one of those sports things I only understand enough to know that it's important that I do it), but when I spoke with the seniors about it a few weeks ago they were in consensus that they want to wait until after the musical to deal with it. Which is fine by me.
The last three weekends of meets have been bearable aside from the fact that I can't quite stand up straight. The bus rides are not so good for my back (straight-backed seats + narrow leg room that forces me to sit at an angle + no shocks).
State wrapped up yesterday. The Festival Committee asked me to run the judges' table, which meant I was the one fielding questions, distributing ballots, and checking said ballots after every round for errors, missing information, rule violations, suspicious judging, etc. The meet director said she specifically put me there because when I worked that position at her meet I was "on top of it and kept the judges in line and accountable." Which means 1) I read fast and accurately, 2) I'm a stickler for rules, 3) I'm not afraid to ask people to fix things or confront issues, and 4) I'm actually pretty good at doing those things politely. Enough so that at the State meet Friday night the head dude from CHSAA (the state activities/athletics governing board) watched me power through questions and issues with six or seven people in less than a minute all the while maintaining a cheery. professional demeanor (or what I think of as my "Relief Society President Voice"), then shook his head when things calmed down and said, "Wow. You're really good at that."
My students did well. We had 19 competing, and 16 broke semi-finals or finals. We took Best in State in two events (out of 11). The Duet Drama scene was a cutting from Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, one of the top plays on my "never-seen-but-really-want-to" list. It was performed by a sophomore boy and a senior girl, and they really do a good job with it. We worked in a lot of creepy voicework and dance-y moves, which always go over well with the drama judges. The same sophomore boy also took Best in State for his Poetry performance of three songs from "Flight of the Concordes." It was a risk to have him run with humorous poems, and there were times this season when more traditional judges really didn't like them; but it paid off in the end, especially given that Poetry was this year's hot event with over 40 competitors in the category.
We also had a slew of 2-6 places (1-6= "Finals") in all of the categories in which we competed, and only one teary breakdown. A senior girl who took Best in State last year in Creative Storytelling wound up getting 4th this year. She took it pretty hard, and while she kept it together on stage she broke down weeping once she was off. I was surprised - she's usually more poised than that, but I imagine it's hard to go from 1st to 4th. The lovely part of it was watching my team in action. The nearest teammate to her immediately pulled her into a hug and let her cry on his shoulder for a few minutes, despite him being a socially awkward sophomore boy who really doesn't run in her circle of friends. She needed someone, though, and he was there for her even though he had gotten 8th in the category (also a disappointment to him, I'm sure) until her senior friends could take over. I watched them from my seat in the auditorium and wondered what I could say to help her feel better. I knew what she needed was the comfort of her friends and a night to take the sting out of it.
She apologized to me at the end of the evening though, saying that she was sorry she "let me down by crying in front of everyone." I was pleased that she recognized that I do expect my students to maintain the poise and showmanship, even though I rarely mention it to them; but I hugged her. "You didn't let me down," I told her. "I'm as proud of you as ever; and more than that, I like you an awful lot."
We went to dinner at a nearby mall. I handed out the ballots and did my usual post-meet jobs - translating judges' handwriting, defining words they don't know ("self-deprecating" and "meta" this time), pointing out and celebrating their victories for them ("You got first in a round! At STATE! That's terrific for your first speech season!"). They need time to process, they always need time to process, but in the meanwhile I'm there to say over and over again that they did well, that I'm proud of what they accomplished, that I like them an awful lot.
They did, I am, and I do.