BHS Literary Team posing with their trophy.  (L-R: Karrie Bryson, Keighly Brown, Hope Fowler, Hayden Wiggs, Jesse Hanks, and Ryan Costello)
BHS Literary Team posing with their trophy.  (L-R: Karrie Bryson, Keighly Brown, Hope Fowler, Hayden Wiggs, Jesse Hanks, and Ryan Costello)

On March 1st, the brightest literary minds from six schools from across the 8-AAAAA region gathered at the Buford Community Center to compete in the annual GHSA Literary Competition. This competition highlights every aspect of literature, from writing essays and speeches to performing monologues and songs derived from prestigious literary works. The Buford team—the current reigning state champions—defended their region title with an astounding 64 points. The teams from Flowery Branch and Loganville followed in second and third place, scoring 47 and 45 points respectively.

In the essay writing category, students randomly draw a topic and are asked to write a spontaneous essay regarding the given subject. Essays are graded on style and mechanics, among other elements. In this category, senior Cooper Long was awarded 3rd place for his work in the Rhetorical Essay competition. Senior Matt Purlee won a silver medal for his Argumentative Essay, and senior Madison McManners brought home gold in the Personal Essay competition. “It was such a surprise to win region,” said McManners. “Going into it, I was super nervous. The essay prompts were a surprise, so the only way I could prepare was by going to sleep early the night before and try to stay calm.” Regarding her win, she said, “I believe that I won because I got to tell my story. I poured my heart into it, and conveyed how much I love writing and how badly I want to be a novelist one day. I pray that I will be able to do the same at state.”

The dramatic interpretation competition sees student actors perform lengthy monologues—often switching characters and setting instantaneously—for their panel of judges, being critiqued on diction, storytelling, and time limits. In the Humorous Oral Performance category, senior Hayden Wiggs earned 2nd place, as did senior Jeanette Beltrán in the Dramatic Oral Performance competition. Said Jeanette of her performance, “It was truly a wonderful experience to be a part of the literary team. I really felt the support of the Buford community leading up to the competition.” To her, the “biggest privilege” was getting to tell her story through dramatic interpretation: “The piece I performed was from The House on Mango Street [by Sandra Cisneros], and it was something truly close to my heart. My parents were brought to tears by my performance and I know that I made them proud. For that, I am grateful.” Also featured in the dramatic interpretation category is the Duo Oral Performance competition, in which junior Trevor Dodge and senior Ryan Costello earned 3rd place.

 Jesse Hanks, Region Champion for Boys' Solo & Hope Fowler, Region Champion for Girls' Solo
Jesse Hanks, Region Champion for Boys’ Solo & Hope Fowler, Region Champion for Girls’ Solo

Students talented in public speaking find their voice in the extemporaneous speaking competition. In this competition contestants are given a topic—a current event centered on either the world or the United States—and, without the use of the Internet, are asked to write and present a short speech, giving both facts and opinions on the subject selected. In the International Extemporaneous Speaking competition, senior Savannah Lang earned 3rd place for her speech on German politics, while senior Katelynn Moon won 2nd place in the Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking competition.

By Hayden Wiggs

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