The fine arts program at Eldorado High School has seen a surge in progress over the last few years, specifically with its speech team.
Miranda Cain, English teacher and coach for the Eldorado speech team, is celebrating this week as three of her nine team members are moving their way through the ranks of the Illinois High School Association speech tournaments and are headed to sectionals.
"Public speaking is one of the most common fears we face," Cain said. "These kids compete in events that are directly tied to that fear."
In order for the team to progress to sectional level, individual members must place in the top four of their prospective categories or divisions. Three of the Eldorado students placed within the top four in prose, impromptu speaking and humorous interpretation.
Seniors Delaney Phelps and Alex Jones, as well as freshmen Shainna Ralston, will compete against performers from other schools at Belleville West High School in an upcoming tournament.
"Being able to go to sectionals is pretty cool itself, but it would be really cool to go farther," Ralston said.
Gary Allen, one of Ralston 's teachers, recommended her to the speech team.
Eldorado High School has only had a speech team for about five years, so its presence in the ISHA tournament circuit is fairly new.
"The skills you learn in speech are something you can use in life," Jones said.
Many students in smaller schools, like Eldorado, aren't able to support a speech team and just don't have the resources to put one together.
Cain has been involved with speech since she graduated from Harrisburg High School.
"Speech is one of the best programs out there that isn't very well known," Cain said. "Speech opens a lot of doors and opportunities in careers not many really knows its exists."
On top of the speech team success, the school is also gearing up to strengthen both its marching band program, headed by Greg Neff, and the theater department, with both Cain and Neff in collaboration.
Though the Eldorado team is excited and celebrating its victory at regionals, Cain said that they are supportive of the other teams in their area and are "super stoked" at how well Harrisburg's team did this year, as well as one of Carrier Mills-Stone Fort high school speech team members who also placed.
"I am really proud of these kids, they are the ones shaping this program," Cain said. "If it wasn't for people like Gary Allen and Lori Quigley, we wouldn't be where we are today."