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Three students excel in speech

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By Ron Benningfield

Good things are said to come in threes and a trio of juniors on LaRue County High School’s speech team appear to be proving that maxim to be true.

Timmy Gibson, Jeshua Logsdon and Ian Mather have each added their individual talents to boost the team to an exceptionally productive and successful season.

Gibson

Gibson has been traveling with the speech team since seventh grade. Public speaking seems to run in the Tim and Edie Gibson family. 

“Timmy’s sister Emily was an extremely successful high school and college (Western Kentucky University) competitor in speech,” said the team’s coach Katy Cecil. 

According to Cecil, in middle school Timmy preferred to sit back and observe more than he liked actual competing, but last year he began dominating in the prose category.

“This year he added poetry to his repertoire and has had another extremely successful year,” Cecil said.

She attributes his success to constant practice and tweaking his performance. 

“He pores over the ballots he receives from every judge at every competition,” Cecil said. “If he gets a suggestion on how he can improve his performance, he will incorporate it.”

Gibson takes criticism well and continually works to develop his characters. 

“I think the secret to Timmy’s success and the success of some of the other students on my team is that they are always changing, always improving, always growing their characters to make their performances new, fresh and more competitive,” said Cecil.

Gibson is known for performing what his coach calls “the quirkiest pieces.” Last year, he did a prose where he had to be Bigfoot. This year he is doing a piece about being a recruit for the Cobra Command, a fictional military force that is pitted against GI Joe.

“Timmy has developed a hilarious character who really comes to life when he does his piece,” said Cecil. 

His poetry is a collection of slam poetry (poems meant to be performed in front of a live audience in a competitive environment) by Big Poppa E. The three poems have three totally different characters for which Gibson has created distinct personalities.

“He truly is a joy to watch,” said Cecil.

Logsdon

According to Cecil, Logsdon’s talent with voices helps bring his pieces to life.

“He is a wonderful character actor who can create distinct personalities for multiple characters in a piece,” said Cecil.

For example, his prose is a story that required him to create eight different characters. 

“He has an amazing amount of talent and what sets him apart from many of his other competitors is he is completely uninhibited,” said Cecil. “He’ll try anything and like Timmy and Ian, he is constantly changing and working on his pieces to keep them fresh.”

The son of Randy and Jennifer Logsdon, Jeshua is also a talented singer, often performing at the Lincoln Jamboree. He attended the Governor’s School for the Arts last summer and hopes to use his experiences in speech, chorus and drama at LCHS to earn a scholarship to college where he plans to major in musical theater.

Mather

Mather’s dramatic performance this year is an adaptation of Mark Twain’s essays.

“When Ian is performing, you actually believe you are watching Mark Twain, and that is an incredible feat to pull off without makeup or costuming,” said Cecil.

His performance as Twain gained him an invitation to compete in May at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Fullerton, Calif., where he will be the first student from LCHS to attend the tourney.

Cecil noted that poetry and prose are not recognized events at the NIETOC. If they were, she is certain that Gibson and Logsdon would have been invited as well.

“Dramatic interpretation is different from prose/poetry because the student doesn’t have a book to use as a prop or to refer to,” said Cecil. “The piece must be totally memorized and the student is expected to create mannerism, movement, and actions that are appropriate to the performance all through mimicry.”

For example, Mather has to “smoke” a cigar like Twain was known to do, but he can’t actually have a cigar.

Ian is the son of Kim Blair Mather and Donnie Mather. His grandfather Garland Blair started the LaRue County Speech team at LCHS in 1967. Garland Blair coached several state champions and a couple of national ones as well.

Kim Blair Mather coached with Garland Blair when Ian’s father won a national championship in dramatic performance in 1989.

Champs

Logsdon won Kentucky High School Speech League state championships in both prose and poetry interpretation this year, beating out over 70 competitors in both events and leading the team to an overall fourth place finish out of 45 participating schools. 

In poetry interpretation, LaRue claimed the three top spots with Gibson capturing second and Mather, third. In Prose Interpretation, Gibson finished fifth. Mather grabbed third in dramatic interpretation.

“This is the highest overall finish for LaRue in a long time, and one of the few times LaRue has had a student win double championships at the state competition,” said Cecil.

Judges often will tell her they love to judge Gibson, Logsdon and Mather because every time they see the boys’ performances, they seem brand new.

“That is truly a high compliment, because by the time you get this far into the season and you’ve seen the same piece done by the same kid about 20 times, you do get tired of it,” said Cecil. “These boys manage to keep their performances so fresh that judges are excited when they see that they have them in a round.”

Performing at Paula’s

The three young men will perform their award-winning pieces at Paula’s Hot Biscuit April 1. Dinner seatings are at 5:30 and 7:15 p.m. 

“The donation is $20 and they get a great meal,” said Cecil. “Tickets can be purchased from Paula or from me, or at the door (limited seating is available, though).” 

Proceeds offset tournament expenses.