Shepard speech team bonds in St. Louis

  • Written by By Bob McParland

  As a test of unity, travelingPge-9-2-col-shepard-st.-lShepard High School speech team members tunnel their way at the City Museum in St. Louis. Submitted photo. together would seem the ultimate trial for any high school team.
  Every waking minute requires conversation and activity — nonstop proximity and interaction that will make or break a group.
  Shepard High School speech coaches and students seem to have discovered some secret. They keep traveling together, this year with a recent trip to St. Louis.
  “The trip’s purpose is to have the team bond while experiencing theatre in a different city. The past two years, we’ve gone to Minneapolis, but this year, we wanted to try something different. I’m glad we went, as the kids had a blast,” said coach Jeff Vazzana.
  Students seemed to love it.
  “The trip was that perfect combination of exhaustion after a long and happy day and the little joy from realizing how cool people you never really talked to before really are,” senior Tasha Wierzal said.
  “It was certainly a super memorable trip, with the most notable aspect being the team bonding that occurred. New relationships were made and old ones were reinforced. We all feel more prepared and confident for the upcoming speech season,” said added senior Mike Peretz.
  The team left Shepard at 5 a.m. and drove to the Gateway Arch. The government shutdown prevented students from taking the elevator to the top, but they still walked the grounds.
  Then it was off to the City Museum.
  “It’s a 10-story piece of interactive artwork. In other words, it’s a 10-story jungle gym. The kids really had a lot of fun crawling through the tunnels that connected floor to ceiling,” Vazzana said.
  That first night, the group saw “Evita.” Despite the long day, “Not a single student fell asleep. All the way (to the hotel), they were singing on the bus, ‘Peron, Peron, Peron,’” Vazzana said of the characters in “Evita.”
  “I know that even though it might annoy other kids in the hallways, it’s nice to have new friends that I can just start belting out “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina!” when a week ago I only I had a vague idea of their names,” said Wierzal.
  Like their previous trips to Minneapolis, the Shepard speech team participated in an improvisational theater workshop on the second day. Even the trip to Six Flags included some theater: The Shepard group visited Fright Fest.
  The trip closed with a trip to the famed St. Louis Zoo.
  Whatever their destination in the upcoming speech season, the Shepard students already have arrived as a team.
  “Even kids I knew since freshmen year I feel like I left the trip knowing them better. It’s a great way to start the season and I think it got everyone more excited for the rest of the year,” Wierzal said.