A Freshman School Record

Alyson Abel, a freshman from Wilde Lake High School, won 5th place in a Baltimore Metro area speech competition on March 28 for the 2021 Declamation where she performed a speech for a group of judges. This competition also put her on path to go to nationals in May of 2021. Although placing in a regional competition can be seen as an accomplishment for anyone, it’s an especially astounding achievement for Abel because of her history with speech. Abel was born with hearing loss, which caused her to fall behind in speaking skills. Her condition caused her to have a difficult time enunciating words.  When Abel turned five, she started attending speech therapy in hopes of improving her speech skill.

From an early age, Abel knew she was set apart from other children her age because of the way she spoke and felt as though she had to learn how to speak like everyone else. She would get questions at school like “why do you sound like that?” and “why do you have that thing in your ear?” 

“It never got to the point of bullying,” acknowledged Abel. “It was still clear that I sounded different from all the other kids my age”.  

Through hard work and determination, Abel caught up to her peers and got rid of her accent throughout elementary school.

“[I still] wasn’t confident speaking to my peers and teachers,” acknowledged Abel. Overtime, she became more confident with her speaking skills.“No one could even tell I once had an accent,” said Abel.While searching for ways to expand her public speaking skills, Abel joined her schools Speech and Debate team in the fall of 2020 where she became a national qualifier for both speech and debate. 

Abel decided to enter Declamation with the speech “A Woman’s Anger” by Soraya Chemaly.

After months of practice, she submitted her first speech video to the Declamation judges, which got positive feedback. Abel then became the first and only freshman to qualify for two national competitions. On Tuesday, May 4th, Abel went to the award ceremony to receive her trophy.

“I felt as though my dedication had finally paid off,” said Abel. During the award ceremony, she was told that she was the only student from her school to place in regionals. Though she didn’t place first, Abel says winning this award taught her that her “voice will be heard.” 

Abel plans on continuing on her speech journey by entering more speech competitions throughout high school and hopes to break more school records in her years to come.


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