Ayah’s Speech Journey


Ayah Yusuf, Writer

My name is Ayah Yusuf. If you don’t know who I am (which is kinda hard, I’m literally all over the school all the time), I’m a rising junior and a significant member of the speech team. The reason I am a significant member isn’t the insane reform that I have brought unto the team and therefore changed the lives of all Bancroft speechies forever because I… no.

The reason I’m so significant is that it has literally consumed my life. I am so dedicated and committed to speech that I have just let the speech lifestyle envelope my entire existence. I am so committed to the speech team that I probably smell like Oreos and competitions at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I chose this. Speech is very much “pick your level of involvement” and I chose to go all in. And honestly, I think everyone should try it because it changed my life.

My first experience with speech was in the fifth or sixth grade. My elementary/middle school competed in the NJFL, which is the like the baby sister league to the leagues that we compete in here at Bancroft. The first time I saw speech in any form was at an assembly at the crusty old cafeteria at the education center of my youth. The speech team gave a presentation of a piece a student worked on for that speech season, very much like we do here at Bancroft for our assembly. I don’t remember who did the piece or what category it was in, but I just remember thinking, “That. I want to do that.” And as soon as I could (which was two years later due to some complications that my sixth-grade class had a truckload of problems with) I did just that. I joined speech.

In the beginning, I experimented. I tried just about every speech category that existed and I got straight sixes in all of them (six is the lowest score you can get in a round). But I loved every second of it. I really felt like I had a place where I belonged. I’ve never been the best at putting together my thoughts into words, and speech was a place where I didn’t have to. I could use words of my own or someone else’s that expressed the way I felt. Fast forward to two years later and I joined high school speech despite the fact that many of the people I did middle school speech with didn’t. I stuck around.

I’ve been doing Speech for four years now. And that means that I’m either insane for putting myself through the early mornings, late nights and the extra work, or I’m dedicated. While there is a good chance that I have lost my marbles somewhere across these long years of getting sixes, then sixes, then sixes, and finally, finally fives, the real thing that kept me coming back was the simple fact that I have fallen in love with speech. I’ve been given a platform to change minds and have my mind changed about issues that people feel passionately about. I’ve been given a voice where before I was too afraid to speak. And for that, I have to thank every mentor, coach, and friend I’ve had across the way.

Ok, maybe I am a bit biased towards speech. I think it’s one of the greatest clubs Bancroft has to offer. Simply put, it changed my life. It’s a great place to get over a fear of public speaking you may have, advocate about something you feel passionately, or just meet some great people who accept you for who you are. I encourage everyone to try it because who knows, you might find a home just as I have.

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