When it comes to performance on the stage, Abby Gilk is a veteran. The RVHS junior has been involved in school plays throughout her time in high school, and is interested in studying theater and the performing arts at the college level. However, she also understands there is more to that pursuit than just acting on a stage.

So, this year she ventured into a new activity. This year Gilk joined the speech team.

“This is my first year in speech,” said Gilk, who admitted she had tried speech in ninth grade. “I went to two meets and quit. I was just not into it.”

Called back to the program this year, Gilk began to see success early on, with a first-place finish in her first meet. Her rankings fluctuated at the meets where she participated, with sixth-place and fourth-place finishes at the two other meets where she competed.

Gilk felt pretty good about placing fourth, as that was at an invitational in New Ulm where a number of much bigger schools were also competing. When the regular season came to an end, Gilk competed at the Sub-Section meet and qualified for the Section meet with a third-place finish. She followed that up with another third-place finish at Sections, which was held April 6 in Marshall. 

That third-place finish meant Gilk qualified for the State Class A speech meet.

That’s right.

In her first season as a member of the Redwood Valley speech team, Gilk qualified for state.

Along the way, Gilk said she also finished better than the two individuals who placed higher than she had at Sub-Sections.

Gilk admitted being pretty excited about competing at state, with that competition being held this coming Friday at Wayzata High School. There she will compete against 23 other speakers from across the state.

Having that background in theater, Gilk has had experience with both comedy and drama, adding while she enjoys them both she thinks dramatic roles are more her niche. So, when selecting a category to compete in, Gilk opted for serious prose.

“When I asked Mr. Felt if I could join the team, he suggested either serious poetry or serious prose,” said Gill.

After opting for the serious prose category, Gilk needed to select something to present.

In the serious prose category, participants select a piece of prose, naturally that is serious in nature, and either present a speech that summarizes the piece or utilizes select excerpts from it that tell the story. As it is serious, the pieces often talk about topics, such as suicide.

Gilk opted for a familiar piece.

“I chose to do Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson,” said Gilk.

Gilk said that book was assigned reading when she was in the eighth grade, and it has had such an impact on her that she got her own copy of it and has read it several times. The book addresses the issue of sexual assault, and is written from the perspective of the victim.

Gilk said the excerpts she chose talk about that and how the main character fights back.

During the state speech meet this coming Friday, Gilk will compete in three rounds with the other Class A serious prose participants, with the top speakers during those three rounds then competing in the fourth and final round of the day. Gilk said her goal this year is to make it to that final round.

Gilk said she has worked hard this season, adding she tries to practice her speech two to three times a week.

Gilk is excited about the opportunity she has to compete at state this weekend and the chance to represent Redwood Valley at the highest level.