Moses Lake High School drama, speech competitors bring home state awards

Mar. 20—MOSES LAKE — Students in the Moses Lake High School speech and drama clubs brought home medals and awards from state competition earlier this month.

Speech Coach Kevin Chollman wrote in response to an email from the Columbia Basin Herald that senior Brock Smith won a state championship in the 4A Dramatic Interpretation category. The state speech competition was March 9.

Moses Lake was one of three schools to earn the highest rating at the state theater festival for its performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time," wrote advisor Sharon Winningham.

The drama students premiered their production of the play at MLHS in late February, just before the state drama competition March 15 and 16. They received a 4 at state competition on a scale of 1 to 4.

"We earned the title of Best in Fest for the first time ever," Winningham wrote in response to an email. "That title is given to schools that not only earned an excellent score, but got that perfect score."

Winningham wrote that she chose the play with the competition in mind.

"I (chose) this unusual show because I wanted to compete with it, not sell tickets," she wrote. "It was written to be performed with minimal sets and tech, and the characters were real and flawed. This provided the type of challenge state adjudicators look for — and we aren't allowed to bring in sets and tech, which is why I chose it. I also knew we had experienced actors who could rise to the challenge."

Moses Lake shared the title with Seattle Preparatory and Hanford high schools, Winningham said.

The state speech competition includes both speech and debate, but the MLHS team concentrated on speech for 2023-24, Chollman said in an earlier interview. The team was relatively inactive for a few years, and Chollman said that since he's never coached debate, the first step was to build a speech team.

The speech team took the district title and qualified seven for state competition.

Speech is either a solo performance or teams of two. Participants have their choice of a range of different disciplines, from the dramatic presentation to an informational speech to a humorous interpretation. Competitors receive both a ranking and a score; the ranking is decisive for determining placing, Chollman said.

Other MLHS speech competitors brought home top 15 placings from the state festival. Sophia Villalpando placed eighth in the 4A humorous interpretation category, and Amber Emerson and Jaden Salazar were ninth in 4A duo interpretation. Griffin Johnson finished 13th in 4A oratory, and Madison Burress was 15th in 4A humorous interpretation.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at