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Students advance to state speech tourney



One Letcher County Central High School student and 21 students from county elementary schools will compete in state speech competitions this month.

Tre’ Sexton, a junior at Letcher County Central High School, received a trip to the Kentucky High School Speech League’s Senior Division State Tournament at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green next week for his recitation of Barack Obama’s victory speech during a regional meet at Knott County Central High School last month.

This is the first year Letcher County schools have participated in the Speech League. Sexton will again recite Obama’s election night speech in the competition that begins on March 13.

Sexton competed in oratorical declamation, which is the recitation of a speech that has been delivered in public. He had to edit the speech to fit the time limit of six to nine minutes.

“It means that with hard work and dedication, it doesn’t matter what kind of time limits you’re on, anything’s possible,” said Sexton. “President Obama had a hard road ahead when he set out to be president. I had a hard road ahead to learn this speech in such a short time, but we both accomplished what we set out to do.”

Sexton decided to use Obama’s victory speech in competition after seeing it delivered on television. He said he liked the speech because it showed that “Obama didn’t forget the little people, the small donations, the varied sections of the country, nor did he fail to mention his family who sacrificed so much while he was campaigning.”

Sexton said he has always had a love of politics and historical figures. His mother, Debi Sexton, said that when Tre’ was three years old he began introducing himself by saying, “Hello. I’m Tre’ Sexton and I’m going to be the President of the United States.”

The regional competition was for the Upper Kentucky River Region which includes Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry, and Whitley counties.

Elementary and middle school students who competed in the Kentucky High School Speech League’s Junior Division Regional Tournament at Knott County Central High School and will advance to state competition are: Jacob Craiger and Sarah Collins from Arlie Boggs Elementary School; Alex Fickey and Dalton Seals from Letcher Elementary School; Courtney Brock, Josh Stephens, Erica Webb, Drew Raleigh, Olivia Hall, Cori Riffe, Krissy Smith, Mikayla Branham, Cameron Kincer and Jamie Billiter, from Martha Jane Potter Elementary School; and Zachary Joseph, Emily Blair, Brianna Cates, Emily Smith, Morgan Sturgill, Aaron Fields and Rachel Sexton from Whitesburg Middle School.

Of the 18 schools participating in the junior division regional, Whitesburg Middle School ranked No. 6, Martha Jane Potter Elementary School ranked No. 7, and Arlie Boggs Elementary School ranked No. 10.

Emily Blair, a student at Whitesburg Middle School, is the regional champion in broadcast announcing. Jacob Craiger, a student at Arlie Boggs Elementary School, is regional runner-up in broadcast announcing and regional runner-up in storytelling.

“I’m just thrilled and delighted that the very first year we have speech the students and the program have succeeded,” said Anna Craft, superintendent of the Letcher County School System.

Craft said the Letcher County Board of Education established the position of speech coach at each school in the district. She said the speech program is important because it builds up the confidence of students who can often be shy and enables them to succeed in other academic areas.

The junior state tournament is set for March 20 and March 21, also at Western Kentucky University.

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