Speech team performs at state


Catherine Hewawissa

The DGS Speech Team, or the “Mouth of South,” placed 14th at the IHSA State Speech Tournament.

The Speech Team competed at the Illinois High School Association Speech State Championship with two individuals taking home recognition. Seniors Catherine Hewawissa was the State Runner-Up in Original Oratory and Hugo Pletcher placed fifth in Extemporaneous Speaking.

English Teacher and Head Speech Coach Justin Matkovich explained stand-out characteristics of Hewawissa.

“Catherine is very competitive, she is an athlete. Having an athlete’s mindset is really important because you want to make sure you improve every week. She goes into rounds wanting to do her best and has a competitive drive that is needed to be successful,” Matkovich said.

Hewawissa has been a member of the speech team for four years and has qualified for state four times, the last three as a member of the Performance in the Round(PIR) Team. Hewawissa shared her reaction to finding out that she was the state runner-up.

“At awards they have you on stage and call you off last to first, so you are just waiting to hear your name called. When I heard my name I was so excited and could not stop smiling,” Hewawissa said.

Pletcher started speech as a junior and this year was his first year being a member of the state series team. Matkovich explained how Pletcher’s determination made him successful.

“He is someone who has worked really hard from when he was a junior year novice to this year. He has really improved throughout this season and even more specifically the IHSA season of regional, sectional and state. He worked really hard, he improved and I think all of that paid off with him having a successful state tournament and too, something that he should be incredibly proud of,” Matkovich said.

Pletcher explained why he was proud of his accomplishments. ‘

“For me it was really impressive only being my second year on the team to see myself going from some random novice to a finalist in state. For me it’s not about the awards but just seeing that personal growth,” Pletcher said.

On March 4, 2023, the Speech Team hosted the National Speech and Debate Association Illini District qualifier tournament qualifying five individuals for the NSDA national tournament in Phoenix, AZ in June 2023.

Qualifiers included tournament champions senior Megan Fox in Humorous Interpretation and senior Catherine Hewawissa in Original Oratory, and tournament runner-ups senior Ethan Eberhard in Program Oral Interpretation, senior Hugo Pletcher in US Extemporaneous Speaking and junior Gianna Caponigro in Humorous Interpretation.

The team placed first overall in the team speech events sweepstake.