Emma Ostwinkle performed at an All-State Reception at Cascade High School April 1 because she qualified for all-state in the storytelling category of the school’s speech team.

Storytelling is one of 14 categories students may choose from in individual speech. Storytellers must memorize a short story in under five minutes and recreate the story using facials and various voices. The 18-year-old senior performed an interpretation of the children’s book “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen. Ostwinkle described the creative process of developing her act, saying it’s a great way to cap off her last year of speech at the school.

“I have participated in both group and individual speech since I was a freshman. Last year I received all-state honors in storytelling as well so this year when we were preparing for the season I knew I wanted to do storytelling again. I picked “The Pout-Pout Fish” because it was a book I loved as a kid and I remember my dad would read it to me all the time. When I started practicing for it, I developed the different voices that I wanted each of the characters to add, but my coaches helped to add in hand gestures to make the piece even better. I worked really hard to be able to do well with it as I wanted to receive all-state honors again. It was the only event I was in this year so I was able to put my full focus into making it great. I was super happy when I found out I got all-state for my storytelling. It was the perfect way to end my speech career.”

Ostwinkle and the other CHS individual speech performers participated in the State Speech Contest at Dubuque Senior March 13. Ostwinkle received notification of her all-state nomination March 24. To receive this recognition, a student must be nominated as an outstanding performer by two of the three judges at state contest.

“We are especially excited to be able to have an all-state reception for Emma this year as she also qualified for all-state last year in storytelling as well,” said Hailey Rausch, Ostwinkle’s speech coach and the speech team’s assistant coach. “We were unable to have the all-state reception due to school being shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emma is our only individual events student who earned all-state honors this year. We also had one group earn an all-state nomination in early February for their group mime, “Growing Pains.” The group mime was a part of group speech and Emma’s storytelling was a part of individual speech. The opportunity to earn these honors only comes around once a year, much like high school athletic competitions at the state level.”

“Emma is really a standout speech participant,” said Rausch. “She seems to have always put her best foot forward. She comes to practice ready to work, memorized, and with ideas to include. She takes feedback really well and works on her own to improve. More importantly, though, she is willing to help others and has a kind heart.”