Huntley Project High School drama team wins first state championship!

The Huntley Project High School drama team won the state Class B drama tournament on Saturday. HP hosted the State B-C Tournament, which included 337 competitors from 47 schools. The photo includes students who competed in drama, speech and debate events. Top row, left to right: Coach Josh Morse, Coach Rachel Pekah, Coach Becky Nay. Fourth row, left to right: Molly Pazoff, Ann Killen, Mazati McCormick, Kip LePage, Adyn Kust, Taylor Sheldon, Kylan Mills-Low. Third row, left to right: Tanner Steorts, Tanner Geiss, Manager Dustin Erb, Lisa Hilbrig, Sierra Stevens, Shayla Arbogast, Manager Tamerah Lee, Holly Rogers. Second row, left to right: Rylee Nay, Reegan Tigner, Payton Tigner, Kasey Jones, Emily Ley, Bailey Chaffin, Kyle Schaff, Ashley Weigum. First row, left to right: Kati Darity, Andi Crane, Peyton Thornburgh, Tyler Schaff, James Flanagan, Colton Hawkins, Alli Combs, Becka Bolerjack. Not pictured: Audrey Hampton, Conner Morse, Maddy Gallegos and Alex Bauer. (photo courtesy of Billie Schaff)

Worden — Talk about a home court advantage. The Huntley Project High School drama team members used their school over the weekend to take them to their first State Class B championship.

Huntley Project Schools hosted the Class B-C state tournaments for speech and drama on Friday and Saturday. The event drew 337 competitors from 47 schools.

Three HP students were individual champions.

Senior Andi Crane won the Memorized Public Address category, performing a Ted Talk by Maysoon Zayid. In this performance, Crane impersonated Zayid, a comic and actress with cerebral palsy.

Tyler Schaff and Peyton Thornburgh won the Classical Duo category, performing a humorous skit by George S. Kauffman, “If Men Played Cards as Women Do.” Each performed the parts of two different characters gathering at one’s home for a card game.

The drama team had won the divisional tournament at Shepherd the week before. The speech team, runners-up at divisionals, placed fifth at state.

“I’m just extremely proud of them,” Coach Becky Nay told the Huntley Project student body at a school assembly Wednesday morning, when the trophies were presented. Members of the speech and drama team carried into the gym every trophy they received during the season, which started in October. That’s a lot — the drama team won seven tournaments and placed third once during the regular season, while the speech team notched six first-place tournament trophies and placed third twice.

“We have had a very shiny season,” Nay said, gesturing to the line of trophies in the hands of HP speakers.

It’s the first state championship for the speech, drama and debate teams, and Nay is looking forward to hanging a championship banner on the wall of the gym.

“This program is unique,” Nay said at the assembly. “It’s one of a kind.”

From October through January, students practice regularly, do independent research and compete every Saturday for up to eight hours at a time, she said.

Dedication paid off, she said, and the school put 12 competitors in the top eight at state.

“That was a huge accomplishment for them,” she said.

Coach Josh Morse said HP became known for its success.

Individual champions from Huntley Project High school include Andi Crane, state champion in Memorized Public Address and the team of Peyton Thornburgh and Tyler Schaff, state champions in Classical Duo. (photo courtesy)

“These kids, they intimidated the competition every time they stepped in the room,” he said.

Debater James Flanagan, who placed third in Lincoln-Douglas debate (defeating last year’s state champion along the way) said it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

“It pays off pretty well,” he said. “We’re not just good, we’re better than most.”

Crane thanked the staff of the school for the support and work it takes to run a big tournament.

Oh, and by the way, she told students in the bleachers, “You’re welcome, for the long weekend last weekend.”

Students were out of school Friday as the state tournament went through its opening rounds.

Nay said 115 judges volunteered to judge at least one round of competition. Dona Kruse provided food for coaches, bus drivers, judges and other tournament workers in the hospitality room, two custodians worked the weekend, two people plus a few extras helped at the main judge’s table and students volunteered to deliver paperwork as needed.

Other HP students who placed at state were:

Memorized Public Address: Kasey Jones, sixth place, Colton Hawkins, seventh place

Dramatic Solo: Rylee Nay, fifth place, Rebecka Bolerjack, sixth place

Dramatic Duo: Katy Darity and Allison Combs, fourth place

Classical Duo: Bailey Chaffin and Emily Ley, sixth place, Peyton Tigner and Reegan Tigner, seventh place

Original Oratory: Ashley Weigum, sixth place

Humorous Oral Interpretation: Kyle Schaff, seventh place

Semi-finalists: Tanner Geiss, Humorous Solo; Holly Rogers, Dramatic Solo; Tanner Steorts, Impromptu Speaking; Taylor Sheldon, Pantomime; Shayla Arbogast and Sierra Stevens, Humorous Duo.

Other state qualifiers: Lisa Hilbrig, Dramatic Oral Interpretation; Adyn Kust, Informative Speaking.

“This was an incredible season,” Nay told the Yellowstone County News. “The team has steadily grown over the past five years and I am excited for the future of this program. I am going to miss my seniors next year as they have been positive mentors for the new participants and they bring a contagious energy to the team. I am proud of each and every member of my team, whether they made it to the state competition or not. What these kids do meet after meet most people won’t even consider trying. They are all winners in my book!

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