Sophomore Edith Mora Martinez represents STC at individual all-state speech festival

PHOTO VIA THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER PHOTOGRAPHY — South Tama County sophomore Edith Mora Martinez recently performed at the IHSSA All-State Individual Speech festival on the UNI campus in Cedar Falls.

In her second year competing, South Tama County sophomore Edith Mora Martinez made it all the way to the highest level — the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) All-State Festival on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls — with her literary program focused on toxic relationships.

Between large group speech, wrestling, track and field and individual speech, Mora Martinez hasn’t had much downtime to spare over the last few months, but receiving the all-state recognition has definitely made it all worth it. As she explained, a literary program is essentially a compilation of poems and segments of books tying into the aforementioned theme.

“I put them all together, and the way I had my poems kind of aligned was the beginning of my poems started off showing how a relationship is in the beginning, and towards the middle, it’s kind of just like a waterfall,” she said. “It had aspects of domestic violence in it.”

Mora Martinez said there were elements of personal experience in the pieces she compiled, and it was difficult as there were times when she felt vulnerable performing it. Nonetheless, she found her voice through the process and got the chance to expand on a research project about domestic violence she completed for another class.

“When I read it out loud, it wasn’t like it was separate pieces. It almost felt like it was all together. The way I projected myself, I really wanted it to flow, and I was able to accomplish that,” she said.

A few of the sources were poems by Rupi Kaur and the novel “Dreamland’ by Sarah Dessen and another poem called “A Taste of Your Own Medicine.” There were five pieces in all. Although the performance at All-State was a big stage, Mora Martinez said in the end, it felt like any other time.

“I didn’t feel any pressure either because I wasn’t being scored or anything, and my critic was just giving good feedback, positive feedback,” she said.

Like so many others who have made the decision to participate in speech before her, Mora Martinez feels it has given her more confidence along with the ability to discuss difficult topics without hesitation.

“I think it’s definitely helped me boost my confidence, and I think that will carry along in college. And I’ll be able to use these skills to communicate with my professors and really just have a voice for myself,” she said.

While she has plenty of time to figure out her future plans, Mora Martinez hopes to graduate a semester early and possibly take a gap year, but she’s also considering joining the military. STC Speech Coach Rachel Davis is proud to send another student to all-state and continue the strong Trojan tradition of excellence.

“She has put so much effort in, and I think individual is different from large group because it’s based on the person who’s involved. And so she definitely put in a lot of time outside of our practices that we had, and it was very clear that she was very thoughtful about the pieces she was picking,” Davis said. “I’m also proud, not only for the work that she did, but for the courage that she had to talk about something that’s difficult to talk about for a lot of people.”

The topic, although difficult, was also therapeutic and comforting to know that others have faced similar situations, Davis added. And now that she’s already cleared such a high bar relatively early in her high school career, the sky’s the limit going forward.

“She’s definitely going to grow a lot in the next two years, and we’re so happy to have worked with her and we’re excited to see what she does in the future,” Davis said. “Especially getting to all-state as a sophomore, even, it takes a lot of skill to get there and a lot of talent, so I have good feelings about her future not only in individual speech but after.”