Students excel at speech and drama tournaments

HARLINGEN — Mick Harte was here.

But not anymore.

He was killed on his bicycle, says his sister Phoebe, the eighth grader who’s telling the story.

She speaks through a book by Barbara Park — and through Aaron Blount.

“She’s explaining how it took a toll on her,” said Aaron, 12, who performed a section of the story late last month at a speech and drama tournament.

The event was called the Harlingen South Texas Forensics League State Qualifying Speech and Drama Tournament. The competition hosted 30 middle schools and high schools from throughout the Valley and the Corpus Christi area.

Aaron, a Vela Middle School seventh grader, took third place in the Novice Prose Interpretation event. Fellow student Kole Kibler, 12, took second place in the same event with his performance from the story, “The Day the Crayons Quit.”

“It was a lot of hand movements,” said Kole, a seventh grader at Vela.

“I acted out changing my voice for the different characters,” he said. “The different crayons were quitting for different reasons. One quit because he was overworked. One quit because they pulled the wrapping off.”

Taking second place out of 98 students was no small feat, especially when you consider this is his first year competing.

“I feel proud about it,” he said. “I enjoy seeing how I’m progressing.”

Aaron’s pretty happy about her success, too.

“I’m extremely proud,” she said with a smile.

She began competing last year and showed a firm grasp of the process.

“You get a piece of literature,” she said. “You don’t have to memorize it; it’s almost like oral reading.”

She said competitors are ranked according to how well they bring the characters to life.

She placed sixth in Novice Poetry Interpretation with her performance of “Missing Natalie.”

“It’s about a little girl and her sister getting kidnapped,” she said gravely.

The pieces she portrays are of a heavy emotional nature. She paused a moment to consider the depth of her characters and their emotional duress.

“It’s really sad but I am really good at doing depressing pieces,” she said seriously.

She enjoys drama for many reasons.

“It helps with my communication skills, and makes me more mature,” she said.

They both said they plan to continue with drama, seeking characters who can find new life through the young voices who portray them.