With her son and daughter in the French Immersion program at Ecole Baker and studying piano with Elizabeth Staats, Trish Simpson, also a teacher at Ecole Baker, seemed destined to be involved with Speech Arts with Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts (QFPA).
Another teacher at the school, Selena Mell, was the first director of the Speech Arts Festival and encouraged both students and teachers to participate.
With the added encouragement of her children’s piano teacher, Simpson stepped up to the plate.
At that time, participation was primarily from the schools, although the festival was open to the entire community.
Once involved, Simpson stepped into the role of Speech Arts Festival director and is passionate about her role and the value of speech arts.
“Speech Arts is important on both the class level and the individual level,” Simpson said.
She added when students are first introduced to poems they’re convinced they won’t be able to memorize it.
“Then they practice and use teamwork and this creates an experience that’s memorable and they’re so proud of what they accomplish,” she said.
The challenge to memorize a long poem translates to confidence in other learning aspects such as math, Simpson said of the class process as well as the individual skill development.
“They develop memorization skills which is helpful for tests and other information as well as a confidence-builder and that develops a cycle of increasing confidence for a student.”
As for the individual, Speech Arts is just one of the options to be involved in dramatic arts and performing.
“Speech Arts has a wide spectrum of classes for participation, everything from memorizing poetry and prose or preparing recitations and sight reading,” she said.
“Students can also perform original poetry, stories or non-fiction pieces.”
There are also classes in traditional drama, readers theatre, mime and improv drama.
“Last year we had three adults performing and it was a wonderful experience for everyone,” Simpson said.
“This year, for the first time, we are expecting out-of-town participants. This allows our students to see Speech Arts is valued in other communities.”
Speech Arts is a valued style of performing and the Royal Conservatory of Canada (RCC) offers accreditation with all the accompanying credentials and judging standards.
Christina Rogers is returning to adjudicate QFPA’s Speech Arts. She is a graduate of RCC in the Speech Arts discipline.
“Having the same adjudicator gives the students a chance to refine their lessons from last year’s adjudication,” Simpson said.
“Knowing a little of what the adjudicator is looking for and what she sees as important allows the students to hone their skills with that focus.”
The written word has always been important for Trish and hopes each participant interacts with another piece of wonderful literature.
“Because my goal is to have students interact with literature, I encourage them to explore the library, open books, read and find what inspires them,” she said.
The Speech Arts Festival runs April 17 – 18 at Ecole Baker elementary school and the public is invited to attend and support the talented participants.