Courtesy Photo

Kadoka Student Mia Fernandez Awarded at State Oral Interpretation Meet

The Kadoka Area School District had outstanding representation at the 2021 State Oral Interpretation Festival, held in Huron December 3rd and 4th.  Mia Hernandez, a junior, is the only person on the Kadoka Area Oral Interpretation team, but “oral interp” as she refers to it, is nothing new to her, and is something she is very passionate about. 

After learning that she had competed at this event and was not only rated superior in Non-Original Oratory, but excellent in Serious Reading as well, I went on the hunt for more information about these two topics, labelled under the “Fine Arts” category by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

My search of the SDHSAA website provided me with a list of the schools and students that were recognized for their performances, and a link to some great pictures from the South Dakota Public Broadcasting Website, but I was yet to find a single bit of information describing what Non-Original Oratory and Serious Reading really consisted of. After several hours and dozens of websites dedicated to Oral Interpretation, I found every resource I would ever need if I had the desire to become a speaker myself, but I still didn’t have any idea what this elusive competitive speaking actually consisted of.

After giving up on the internet as a source of any kind of valuable information, I decided it was time to question the professional in person. With Mr. Lukens as my messenger, I asked Mia if she would have a little chat with me after school to fill me in on Oral Interpretation. 

When she showed up after school I was pleasantly surprised, not only because she had taken the time to come down to get questioned, but also by her eloquent and educated way of speaking that immediately helped me understand how beneficial this unconventional extracurricular really was to its participants.

“As defined by the handbook, a Non-Original Oratory piece is anything considered an oration. An address, a lecture, or maybe an essay.” she informed me. “I like to think of them as sort of ‘Ted Talks’, really anything that is persuasive in nature, I suppose”

“Lessons in finding happiness in hard times,” she said, was the general theme of her persuasive performance.  “I spoke mostly about the pandemic. How it’s affecting people, and what we can do to make ourselves happy.” 

Ironically enough, the first link I opened on the SDHSAA website in regards to the State Oral Interpretation Event, was an article announcing that the 2020 Competition would be held virtually, because of the pandemic. But back to the topic!

“Serious reading is defined as dramatic literature, or prose with literary merit.” For this category, she read a cutting from Gone With The Wind.

This being her first year at KHS, she is very thankful for her volunteer coaches, from both the present and the past. “It’s been great at Kadoka because I’ve had a very insightful coach, Mr. Nemecek.”

When asked her views on Oral Interpretation as a whole, she responded, “Even though extracurriculars are commonly thought of as things that distract students from school and homework, I think ‘oral interp’ actually benefits my schoolwork. It correlates with lots of things you do in English, and because its interpreting the sort of rhetorical devices, the plot, the core themes of your piece, the characterizations, it just improves your reading abilities. You have to think hard about it.”

Having been a part of this since 8th grade, I asked what she considered to be the main benefit gained from this activity. “I guess its just made me a better reader,  a better thinker, and anyone whose interested in acting should totally give it a try.

Congratulations Mia, and keep up the good work in 2022!

The Pioneer Review

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