Lemont High School senior Reema Dhawan placed third in Special Occasion Speaking at the 2020 IHSA Speech State Finals, which were contested on February 21-22 at the Peoria Civic Center. Dhawan became just the fifth student in program history to earn a state medal, and only the third Lemont student to place third or better at the IHSA Speech State Finals. Juniors Nour Longi (Original Oratory) and Lauren Rearden (Humorous Interpretation) joined Dhawan in making their state finals debuts and tied for 10th and 15th, respectively, in their competitions.
Lemont matched a program single-season record by qualifying three students for state finals competition, thanks to their performances at the IHSA Reavis Sectional on February 15. Lemont has qualified at least one student for state finals competition in eight of 12 seasons. Head coach Phil Lazzari’s team first had three state qualifiers in one season in 2017.
Dhawan took home top honors in sectional competition with her entry, “My Sel-FISH Decision.” In Special Occasion Speaking, students present an original speech for a realistic situation for the purpose of entertaining an audience. She joins Nick Lambrakis ‘15 (Oratorical Declamation, 2014) as the only Lemont speech students to win a sectional title.
Longi’s entry - “Be the change.” - was good for third at the sectional. In Original Oratory, students present an original persuasive speech. Rearden tied for third at the sectional with her entry, “Sleepover from Hell.” In Humorous Interpretation, students present literary material from a printed, published source that meets high standards for good literature.
The top three performers from each of 15 events at the six IHSA Sectionals advance to the IHSA State Finals. All competitors who tie for third place move on to the state finals as well, which gives some events more than 18 entrants.
Lemont finished third at the IHSA Reavis Regional and advanced competitors to sectional competition in 14 of 15 events. Longi and Rearden were second in Original Oratory and Humorous Interpretation, respectively, while Dhawan was third in Special Occasion Speaking. Regional champions included senior Lauren Mandel (Informative Speaking) and junior Makenzie Michaelson (Dramatic Interpretation).
Lazzari’s team won its 11th straight South Suburban Conference-Blue Division title this season, with first-place efforts from Dhawan in Special Occasion Speaking and Longi in Radio Speaking.
Lemont’s best finishes in state finals competition came in 2011, when Delia Ercoli ‘11 was second in Informative Speaking and Aubree Tally ‘13 placed third in Humorous Interpretation. That year, Ercoli became the first Lemont student to qualify for state finals competition in two categories, as she also took part in Oratorical Declamation. Kiara Hardy ‘17 (4th in Oratorical Declamation - 2017) and Ryan Luzzo ‘14 (6th in Prose Reading - 2013) are Lemont’s other state medalists.
Lemont’s other speech state finals qualifiers have included Bryan Carver ‘09 (Humorous Interpretation) in 2009; Tally (Dramatic Interpretation) in 2013; Lambrakis (Oratorical Declamation) and Peter Marzano ‘14 (Extemporaneous Speaking) in 2014; Lambrakis (Dramatic Interpretation) and Becca Zagorski ‘15 (Radio Speaking) in 2015; Devin Becker ‘17 (Prose Reading) and Hailey Jones ‘17 (Informative Speaking) in 2017; and Grace Smiles ‘18 (Dramatic Interpretation) in 2018