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Students in Oral Interpretation


The first State Declamation Contest was held in 1910 as part of that year’s State High School Track and Field Meet. In 1911, the first state-wide Declamation Contest was held independent of the State Track Meet. From those modest beginnings over 100 years ago the contest has evolved into the modern State Oral Interpretation Festival of today. This year students from 88 South Dakota high schools will compete in the 109thAnnual SDHSAA State Oral Interpretation Festival on Friday November 30 at Lake Area Technical Institute, and Saturday December 1 at Watertown High School in Watertown, SD.

This year’s State Interpretation Festival competitors have qualified for the Festival through a combination of local school, district and regional competitions. The Festival will feature a combined total of 311 Class "AA", Class "A" and Class "B" entries. The Class "B" State Oral Interp Festival competitors were determined by advancing from one of the ten district contests to a Class “B” regional contest and advancing from their region contest to the State Festival. The Class "A" State Festival competitors qualified for the State Festival after advancing from one of five Class “A” regional contests. Class "AA" contestants have advanced to the State Festival as a result of intraschool competition in their own schools. The 2018 State Oral Interpretation Festival will showcase competitive performances by 102 entries from 16Class "AA" schools, 107 entries from 28 Class "A" schools and 102 entries from 44 Class "B" schools.

The State Oral Interpretation Festival, sponsored by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, brings together South Dakota’s best high school oral interpretation speakers in a “festival” setting. During the State Festival, the students will compete to achieve a "Superior" rating which is the equivalent of a state championship in their contest event. State Oral Interpretation Festival competition is divided into seven contest events: Non-Original Oratory, Interpretation of Serious Reading, Storytelling, Poetry Reading, Humorous Reading, Duet Interpretation, and Readers Theatre.

The State Oral Interpretation Festival competition will begin on Friday morning, November 30 at 9:00 a.m. The Festival's second and third sessions will be held at 1:30 Friday afternoon and at 6:00 Friday evening respectively. The Festival will conclude with two sessions at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 1. The awards for each session’s competition will be announced at the conclusion of the session. “Team Excellence” awards, recognizing the high schools whose over-all entries excelled during the State Festival, will be presented at the conclusion of the competition on Saturday afternoon.

The public is encouraged to attend any or all of the sessions of the State Festival. This event is free to the public.

From: Brooks Bowman, Assistant Executive Director, South Dakota High School Activities Association