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Oral Language Festival in Tehachapi


December 21, 2019

Craig Luther

Competition winners.

The Tehachapi Unified School District (TUSD) hosted its annual district level Oral Language Festival (competition) at the district office on Thursday, Dec. 5.

The event kicked off just after 6 p.m. at the district office's board room, located at 300 S. Robinson St. The participants were 19 students - all 4th and 5th graders from Golden Hills, Cummings Valley and Tompkins elementary schools - who had successfully cleared the first stage of the competition by winning the individual elementary school site competitions held last month at each of the three schools.

Responsible for running this year's district level competition was Linda Quiroga, M.Ed., the Elementary Coordinator of Learning and Achievement at the school district. According to Quiroga, "the Oral Language Festival is an amazing opportunity for students to try something new; to push themselves to step into public speaking/performance; to collaborate and learn responsibility as either a solo performer, or someone who is part of a team and being relied upon by [his or her] team. It's also a wonderful opportunity for families, teachers, staff, students and community to come together to support our amazing TUSD students."

Carrie Perkins, a 4th grade teacher at Golden Hills Elementary, noted proudly that she had seven children participating.

"Preparation for the competition takes lots of time and effort; some of the children had been preparing since August, even practicing during recess. This is a serious commitment," she said.

The children, competing in five categories - Serious Interpretation Solo, Humorous Interpretation Solo, Serious Interpretation Duo, Humorous Interpretation Duo, and Verse Choir - displayed their abilities to interpret quality children's literature in an oral format to a large and appreciative audience of parents, other family members and students. Each of the presentations lasted three to five minutes. The three judges were Bonny Porter (Current Secondary Coordinator of Learning and Achievement at TUSD); Paul Kaminski (Current Secondary Academic Coach at TUSD and former TUSD teacher, JMS Principal, and Interim Superintendent); and Vicki Lange (Response to Intervention or RTI) teacher.

Altogether, the competing students performed 12 individual events (within the five categories noted above). Despite a few instances of a student temporarily forgetting his/her lines - typical and fully understandable examples of "stage fright," which all of us have experienced at one time or another in our lives - each of the performers was extremely well-prepared and, in some cases, the performances were so good it must have been difficult for the judges to select the winner. In general, the competitors interpreted their literary selections with great verve, creativity and, depending on the category, with real thoughtfulness or humor that made us all chuckle.

The judges selected the following winners in each category:

• Serious Interpretation Solo: Gavin Woodard of Cummings Valley Elementary (Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs)

• Humorous Interpretation Solo: Kennedi Clark of Golden Hills Elementary (A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester)

• Serious Interpretation Duo: Princess Amezcua and Paige Martin of Tompkins Elementary (The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein)

• Humorous Interpretation Duo: Ryan Cazares and Peter Avila of Cummings Valley Elementary (Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss)

• Verse Choir: Oscar Cabrera, Samuel Cho and Jacob Parks of Tompkins Elementary (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin)

The nine winners of the TUSD district level competition advanced to the regional competition at Muroc School District on Dec. 13, where they competed against the winners of the other district competitions in the region. Two TUSD students won and were awarded Certificates of Recognition at the Dec. 17 School Board Meeting. Winners will advance to the final event in the Oral Language Festival, the Kern County competition, where they will compete against the winners of the other regional competitions in the county.


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