Chatfield senior finds more than success at speech contests

Lauren Mueller participated in the Minnesota High School League’s state speech contest on April 21, earning 12th place with her creative expression speech, “Let’s Go Hunting for Ghosties.” GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/NEWS LEADER

Lauren Mueller had something to state, so she went there.

“I’m just happy I got to go,” said Chatfield High School speech team member Mueller, speaking of her recent appearance at the Minnesota state speech contest, where she gave it her best as she competed against other top speakers.

The senior garnered 12th place in the state with her creative expression speech, “Let’s Go Hunting for Ghosties.”

Her speech career began when she was in eighth grade. “I’ve been in speech since eighth grade,” she said. I’ve never liked sports, but I’ve always liked theatre. One of my friends said, ‘Hey, come give this a try,’ and I did, and I really liked the people and the atmosphere.”

Mueller began her speech experiences with storytelling, then did poetry. She has also participated in duo events, but mostly, she has competed in creative expression, for the past three years.

“At subsections, I think I got fifth, at sections, I got third, and at state, I got twelfth,” Mueller explained. “My speech, ‘Let’s Go Hunting for Ghosties,’ is basically about a bunch of friends who go hunting for ghosts, and there’s a little plot twist at the end. It’s very high-paced and a very exciting piece. At the end, I’m usually out of breath.”

Speech has boosted Mueller’s self-confidence and her curiosity about other people’s interests.

“I have a lot of friends, not only in my school, but out of different schools because I’ve met them at competitions, and I have more confidence in myself as a person,” she said. “I had not been to state before, so it was crazy. I was very excited, very emotional…a lot of my peers were very emotional. I was just happy I was going because that’s been on my bucket list for a long time.”

Mueller said the competition itself was a little intimidating because all of the state participants were the best of the best from their regions.

“Mostly, I went in relaxed, I didn’t go in feeling super-competitive like I usually do. It wasn’t because I needed to go to finals or anything…I just wanted to go, so I was relaxed,” she reiterated.

Through speaking at the state tournament, she gained experience as a public speaker, and she also learned a few things from her fellow competitors.

“There’s a lot of good speakers out there,” she observed. “They showed me a lot of different ways to tell things or stories, and there were a lot of different voices people used that I never thought of using before. I was happy to go because I got to go with some my most favorite people, and that was a lot of fun.”

Mueller plans to attend college this coming fall to study radiography, and the end of her high school years in speech will be bittersweet. “I will miss the people, and definitely the atmosphere,” she said. “Even though it’s competitive, it’s very friendly, and I’m friends with a lot of people I’ve met from other schools that I might not get to be in contact with again, so I’ll definitely miss the atmosphere.”

She hopes to continue having a chance to state what’s on her mind — or her characters’ minds — in some manner throughout her coming years, as she’s active in CHS’s theatre and aspires to find a stage on which to perform post-graduation.

“I’d like to keep speaking if I can find a way to. I want to do some theatre, incorporate speech with that…if I find any opportunity, I would like to,” Mueller concluded.