An eighth-grade student at Christ Lutheran School is among those who will compete this weekend at a state speaking contest.
Making the trip to Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 3 for the 2012 Wisconsin Conservation Awareness Speaking Contest will be Hanna Nitzke.
She will do so after placing first at the regional level of the competition on Oct. 23 in Waupaca.
This is not the first time a student from Christ Lutheran will compete at the state level.
"I have had at least five (students) in my number of years here that moved on to the state level," said Grace Dobberstein, who teaches fifth through eighth grade at the school.
She is in her 11th year of teaching at Christ Lutheran and said the school's students first began competing in the contest around 1999.
The Waupaca County Land and Water Conservation Department sponsors a county-wide conservation speaking contest each year for students in fifth grade through high school.
Students must participate in an area contest in order to compete in the state contest. The speeches must promote the conservation of natural resources and the protection or enhancement of an environmental quality.
The topics have to address soil and water conservation issues, and there must be an emphasis on how the topic relates to their area or to the state.
The speaking contest has three divisions: elementary for fifth and sixth graders, junior for seventh and eighth graders and senior for high school students.
There are nine students in Dobberstein's class, and all nine of them competed in the area contest, which was held Oct. 16 in Waupaca.
They were required to participate as part of their English class.
The other student competing at the county level was a student from Waupaca Middle School.
Dobberstein's students all placed. In addition to Nitzke placing first in the junior level, Lauren Kester placed second and Landon Buchholtz placed third.
At the elementary level, fifth-grader Breanna Weiland placed first, Claire Berndt placed second and Kyle Kamnik placed third.
The first-place winners in each division at the county level then competed at the regional level.
In addition to Nitzke receiving first place at that level, Weiland received second place.
Dobberstein's students began working on their speeches the first week of school.
After choosing their topics, they did their research, using the Internet, books and maps.
After cutting and pasting the information into outline form, she said the students "typed it into what I call draft one. They have to be able to put in into their own words while they type it. Then, we begin what I call the editing process. Some students write five to eight drafts before they get to the final draft."
The students learn how to prove their topics are relevant to conservation and are then timed while they speak.
In the elementary division, the speeches must be between three and five minutes in length, while in the junior division, they must be between five and eight minutes long.
Dobberstein said as the students practice, they learn to speak loudly and cloudly and to emphasize particular words.
They also learn to use their space by moving from one area of the room to another.
The topics her students chose this year included Wisconsin's new hunting season for wolves, the best way to remove contaminants from water, the pressure to extend the length of the sturgeon spearing season and what can be done to protect trumpeter swans.
Dobberstein said the students choose topics they are interested in, which helps them retain what they learn.
They also become comfortable speaking in front of others, which benefits them in high school and beyond.
Sixth grader Sophia Buhrow said participating in the contest made her more confident speaking in front of people.
"Last year, I got to the regionals," she said.
Dobberstein said one of her past students continued to compete in the contest as a high school student.
She also said her own children went into their high school speech classes with confidence, after competing in the speaking contest.
"It's a shame that other schools don't participate in it. The last two years, our school had been the only one participating at the county level. There is so much to gain from the program," Dobberstein said. "This speaking contest is better than any speech curriculum I've ever taught in my more than 30-some years of teaching."
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