southtownstar
SLIDING 
Weather Updates

Speech a specialty for Oak Lawn teen

Richards High School student Kiersten Berquist performs blood-spatter test science lab.  |  Supplied phoby Bob McParland

Richards High School student Kiersten Berquist performs a blood-spatter test in the science lab. | Supplied photo by Bob McParland

storyidforme: 62610897
tmspicid: 22576254
fileheaderid: 10865322

Updated: May 1, 2014 6:08AM



Richards High School senior Kiersten Bergquist likes to talk.

That’s not to say she talks in class. On the contrary, she is academically astute. She is an Illinois State Scholar and has received Honors with Distinction, an honor reserved for the most academically talented students in Community High School District 218.

Rather, Bergquist saves all her talk-time for when she has an audience.

She is a senior leader and a member of the National Honor Society, Leo Club, Tri-M Society (Modern Music Masters) and environmental club, but it is her involvement on the speech team and with the drama club that she loves the most.

“Being in speech and the performing arts department as a whole is definitely my favorite activity,” said Bergquist, 17, who has performed in the school musicals and is involved in chorus. “I really enjoy performing, so having the chance to do that constantly with a cast of talented peers and coaches and older students who help me to improve is really a good opportunity to help me hone my skills.”

Last year, she was a member of the all-conference, all-sectional, all-state cast for group interpretation that placed sixth in the state.

“I really enjoy being able to perform a variety of emotions and being where I can compete with students from opposing schools,” she said. “I want to see if I can learn anything from the opposition. I just really like performing, so being able to do that on a weekly basis is really fun for me.”

Bergquist joined the speech team as a freshman. This year, she was competing in oratorical declamation and radio speaking. As a member of Richards’ Performance-In-The-Round cast, she placed second at the Reavis Sectional earlier this year.

For oratorical declamation, she performed a speech by Annabella Monroe detailing how the health care system needs radical improvements.

“In the story she tells, her child dies at 8 months because of liver cancer and says how the health care system should have been able to fix that,” Bergquist said. “Unfortunately, I feel that situation is all too common. It is a really good piece to educate everyone and how the system should be changed.”

Radio speaking is an entirely different type of event. In that, Bergquist has limited time to prepare. At a tournament, she’ll receive a packet of news and has to create a radio broadcast with a selection of international, national and regional news stories, along with segments on sports and weather.

“There’s not a lot of pressure when performing in front of the judges because they really care a lot about vocal techniques,” she said. “I have to worry about using proper diction and appropriate tone. It is a good way to keep up on current events.”

Bergquist said her parents, Trish and Robert Bergquist, of Oak Lawn, motivate her to do well.

“They push me to exceed expectations and be the best I can be,” she said. “I really like the feeling of accomplishing something and knowing I did something that achieves something noteworthy. That feeling is incredible. It is nice to feel successful.”

She also gives credit to her many speech coaches.

“They all look out for everyone on the team and work to put me in the events I would do the best in,” she said. “They give me the scripts that are best suited for me and work with me on a weekly basis to help me overcome any flaws in the performance.”

Next school year, she wants to attend college and pursue a major in environmental studies and minor in theater arts.

“I have always excelled in the science and I want to do something hands-on where you can see the results. Environmental studies is the perfect combination of chemistry and biology, plus I have always enjoyed the outdoors and nature, so I’d like to help come up with solutions to fix the many environmental problems,” she said. “Plus, it is a great field that is constantly expanding. There are so many open opportunities. So to get involved really early is an awesome opportunity.”

Bergquist has been accepted to Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington but had not made her final decision.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.