Marta Makowski could have had a career in musical theater. But Huntley High School's theater and music director recognized that the Lake In the Hills resident had an even greater talent for another type of performance -- public speaking.
It's a good thing Tom George poached the then-freshman for the school's public speaking team. The 18-year-old high school senior will be the first Huntley High School student to compete in the nationals of the National Forensic League, an organization that promotes speech and debate activities at the middle and high school levels. More than 2,000 students from across the country, as well as China, will compete. This is the first year Huntley High School has competed in the National Forensic League.
"What I love is that you get to step outside of your comfort zone," Marta said. "Public speaking is useful for interviews and talking to people. I have met a lot of interesting people, and it helps inside the classroom and outside of it. And it is classy and professional."
She qualified for nationals with a third-place finish in original oratory at the Greater Northern Illinois District contest held in March. In her four years on varsity speech team, Marta made the final round in her events 56 times and won a school record 26 individual championships. This year, Marta was the Illinois High School Association Sectional Champion in impromptu speaking and original oratory and finished seventh at the IHSA State Speech contest, finishing just one point out of the state final round, said George, the public speaking coach.
While it's rare for students to compete at the varsity level all four years, George said Marta is driven to succeed. He said the team competes in about 15 tournaments a year and Marta refines the speech after every competition based on input from judges, as well as her own desire to improve.
"I have never had a student as dedicated to speech as Marta," said George, who has coached speech and debate teams for more than 20 years. "No one has ever worked as hard. Marta embodies the concept of a team and I hope she does well for herself at nationals. I look forward to seeing what she does in the future because she really is a talented speaker."
Marta will compete in the original oratory category, which requires an 8-minute persuasive speech. Her speech, "Ready, Set, Risk," is about taking healthy risks that help you grow as a person, such as taking difficult courses in school, participating in healthy activities that you may not be comfortable with and considering a challenging career.
The speech team is raising money for Marta to travel to Indianapolis. Details are not yet available, but interested donors may contact Tom George at firstname.lastname@example.org.