The Walker-Hackensack-Akeley sixth-grade speech program began in 1991 as a classroom component of Coach Stewart Wilson. The premise was to give all sixth-grade students the opportunity to speak in front of a group of people, a much-needed life skill.
As the years passed, the sixth-grade speech program transformed from an integral classroom aspect to one of students’ personal interest. Coaches Chuck Cravens, Bev and Joe Jorland, Dave Lundquist, Beth Wilson and Lori Burks have assisted in nurturing future Walker Talkers.
Each spring, interested sixth-grade students select, practice, perform in competition, practice some more, and finally compete among themselves for the bragging rights as the Sixth-Grade Speech Champion. Senior high speech students judge all participants and rank individually to arrive at a cumulative score.
The lowest score receives the first-place medal and has their name engraved on a perpetual plaque. Past recipients include state medalists Kelly Maloney, Sammi Mueller and Kelly Nelson; state champions Sara Cravens, Krystle Holk and Josh Plattner; and NFL National participants Stephanie Stine, Josh Plattner and Matthew Koring.
Last January. former speakers Ellie Hansen and Emma Burpo, along with current speakers and Captains Molly Massar, Willow Damar and Jayda Dickson, listened to six speakers imparting wisdom learned through their coaching and competing. With the advice firmly received, sixth-graders Payden Yeats, Ava Welk, Britta Rand, Avery Morrison, Thea Ringle and Ayla Mankie began practicing for the Walker Junior High tournament in March and their end of season final in May.
Finalists were Mankie, Yeats and Ringle. Placing third was Morrison, second went to Welk, and the 2019 Sixth-Grade Speech Champion was Rand.
The 2020 Walker Talkers hope these young speakers will continue and join the team this year.