I had four words listed on the back of my high school letter jacket.
DRAMA CHOIR SPEECH ACADEMICS
I had friends who shook their heads and cried NERD. They were probably right.. I mean, who does that!?! But you know what? I was PROUD.. and I’m still proud today.
<Pardon me while I climb onto my high horse.>
I’m a 3-time high school state champion in Nebraska with two individual titles in Persuasive Speaking and a team title for Mock Trial.
My weekends from October to May were spent like this.. waiting for food with my team at any local Valentino’s or Village Inn we could find after a long day of competition. We worked for weeks prior fine tuning our speeches, our interpretations of plays and poetry, and our research and knowledge of current events. I think those days served us pretty well.. the two people in this picture are still my friends almost 20 years later. Cassie is a respected pharmacist, wife and mom on the east coast, John was my fellow KETV reporter and meteorologist before joining the private sector and raising three boys (one a foster kiddo) with his wife in Texas. We ALL use public speaking in our jobs, and we are all better in our careers and beyond because of those long days and quick years at speech tournaments. To those who didn’t compete with us, we were likely just the weirdos they saw talking to walls. To everyone in our circle, the more you practiced to that audience of brick, the more often you’d see your name on those ‘finals’ lists, and the more trophies you brought home at the end of each weekend.
Times may have changed since my high school years (if you need proof, look at my hair again..) but that unspoken thread connecting speech kids is still strong. Now though, as I’ve learned from Scottsbluff High School’s Ashlynn Haun, we’re called ‘speechletes’.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
“I am a Varsity memeber of the SHS Speech team and love every minute of it!’ Ashlynn told me recently. “It has helped develop my speaking skills and meeting other speechletes is a blast!’
Ashlynn was a contender and winner at several high school meets this season, making district finals in two separate events. That alone is impressive, let alone considering Ashlynn was also busy with golf, 4-H, dance and her school’s musical (click here to listen to Ashlynn sing!)
“My family, friends and the members of my community all play important roles in my life,” said Ashlynn. “My family has always supported me through all of my endeavors. My friends and community members help each other in so many unknown ways, it truly amazes me. These people are important to me because they are uplifting and kind, and I hope they view me in the same light.”
That devotion to her community and those in it led Ashlynn to several service projects, often with 4-H Junior Leaders. She wanted to become more involved and meet more people.. and found the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program. Ashlynn was crowned Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen last fall.
“By being involved in the program I have been able to improve my leadership and interview skills,” said Ashlynn. “The Miss America Organization is a wonderful scholarship program for young women everywhere. This experience isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about meeting interesting new people and giving back to our communities.”
Ashlynn does that both through philanthropy and emotion. She often gives back through dance, sharing her gift with audiences as both Miss Gering’s OT and as a teaching assistant at Tabor Dance Academy.
“I LOVE being on stage!” said Ashlynn. “Performing gives me such a thrill and has always been fairly easy for me. I love being able to entertain others while doing something I’m passionate about.”
Ashlynn is also focused on her personal platform, ‘We Are All Survivors’, advocating for cancer survivors and their families.
Ashlynn on Facebook: ‘Had a blast talking about my platform and participating in the Boxer Rebellion 5K today!😊This great event brings awareness to colon cancer and raises money for Festival of Hope.’
“Almost everyone knows someone affected by cancer in some way, whether it be a family member, a friend, or a friend’s family member,” said Ashlynn. “My platform is centered around supporting not only the patient, but also those who care for them. I know personally that seeing someone you love hurt and struggle is terrible. Often people don’t know how they can help, so I want to spread creative ways that will be most beneficial to these families.”
Here’s a young lady who not only has big ideas, she’s using her words and abilities to bring those visions to life. She also admires those same traits; when I asked her who her role model is, she didn’t name a celebrity or high-profile stranger.
“Someone who is a role model for me is my fellow dancer, speechlete and schoolmate Emily Ostdiek,” said Ashlynn. “She inspires me because she is extremely kind, talented and is always smiling.”
THAT inspires me.
Speech kids RULE. Speech kids who are also pageant girls are AWESOME. These women aren’t just talking to walls or waving manicured hands, they are promoting causes and showing everyone around them the power of grace, intelligence and positivity. Ashlynn Haun wants to represent all of that.. along with her school, her hometown, and speech kids everywhere.
“I should be Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I have pride in my community, county and state,” said Ashlynn. “I would use my leadership, desire to serve others, and poise to represent them in a very positive light. I would also take the opportunity to support cancer patients and their families in a more public format to bring awareness to my platform. I love being part of and promoting the Miss America Organization and would enjoy becoming a bigger part of it.”
CLICK HERE to follow Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Ashlynn Haun on Facebook. You can also contact Ashlynn for appearances and events by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, visit THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE. For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley at 308-631-0938 or by email at email@example.com. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at email@example.com or Director Kali Tripp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!