To Compete or Not to Compete

Drama competitions aren’t only for actors—debaters, theater novices, and anyone who likes to talk can participate. One such set of competitions is available specifically to Tennessee high-schoolers and has a long history with White Station.

The Tennessee High School Speech and Drama League (THSSDL) is an association that sponsors speech and drama programs and tournaments throughout the state. The activities in these tournaments include solo acting, one-act plays and theater and public debate.

“[White Station] has been competing [in THSSDL competitions] for a really long time. But in the last two years, we have not competed at all,” William Henry, Intro to Theatre teacher, said.

Henry competed in THSSDL competitions from 2004 to 2007, when he was a White Station student.

“It was one of the things I enjoyed doing in high school, and I really wanted to bring it back when I heard that we didn’t [participate] anymore,” he said.

THSSDL tournaments differ from similar local competitions because of the diversity they offer. The Tennessee Theatre Association hosts play festivals at its annual conference, but only theatrical performances are accepted. THSSDL competitions include activities in both theater and speech, allowing thespians and debaters to compete alongside each other.

“It’s like two different groups of the high school mingling together into this one competitive team, and that’s really nice,” Henry said.

THSSDL also awards three $500 Kathleen Beach Memorial Scholarships to deserving seniors every year. All that’s required to apply is a completed application, a few documents and a short essay.

So for any Spartans interested in competing in THSSDL tournaments, look no further than White Station’s own Speech and Drama Club.

“With [the Speech and Drama Club], you actually go to competitions and get hands-on experience. You get to use what you’re learning in a practical manner and get critique, plus scholarships,” Hallie Storms (11), president of the Speech and Drama Club, said.

The club aims to help actors, debaters and anyone in between to build up their performance skills and compete in the regional THSSDL competitions.

“My goal with the Speech and Drama club is to reach out to speech writers and people who might not consider themselves theatrical,” Henry said.

THSSDL competitions offer valuable opportunities for those who love the stage and those who are curious about it. Interested students should contact Henry and become part of White Station’s rich speech and drama legacy.