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Friedman earns All-State speech honors with math

Newton High freshman Leo Friedman received a I rating on his individual speech "Why Math Is Important" at the 2020 state speech contest, which was virtual on May 16. He was nominated for the All-State Speech Festival and received an all-state medal and certificate.
Newton High freshman Leo Friedman received a I rating on his individual speech "Why Math Is Important" at the 2020 state speech contest, which was virtual on May 16. He was nominated for the All-State Speech Festival and received an all-state medal and certificate.

Leo Friedman adapted quickly to the faster pace of high school. Friedman became involved in activities and athletics in his freshman year at Newton High School.

When the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench into the 2019-20 school year, Friedman was not fazed after working hard on his individual speech for state competition. School and all spring activities were suspended in March because of COVID-19.

“Our state contest was to be the Saturday after spring break,” Friedman said. “I had worked two weeks to prepare for the first contest then two more weeks before spring break.”

The in-person state speech contest was turned around by the Iowa High School Speech Association as a virtual contest two months after the initial date.

It was no tangent by Friedman as he decided to compete in the virtual speech contest with “Why Math Is Important.” Friedman received a I rating on his five-minute expository address, which is an informative, memorized speech in which students may use props.

Friedman was one of two Newton High students to participate May 16 through a Zoom link provided by the IHSSA. He said three certified judges watched the speeches then sent their ballots to the speech coaches at the individual schools.

“I was very prepared and had my props at home. I saw no reason not to do the virtual contest because I had my speech down,” Friedman said. “I was confident in myself and receiving at least two I’s on it.

“Then, my speech teacher Mrs. Aldridge sent me an email telling me I was chosen for All-State. I was surprised and ecstatic.”

“Why Math Is Important” earned Friedman state and all-state honors. He also was a member of the Newton High large group awarded a I rating in February at the large group speech state contest.

Friedman’s performance was nominated for All-State, which is a festival each year, according to Niki Aldrich, Newton’s speech coach.

“There will not be an All-State festival this year so the honorees receive the recognition — a medal and certificate — without the live performance that usually occurs at UNI,” Aldrich said.

Friedman said his brother, Isaac, achieved the same honors — All-State with a group and with an individual prose speech — as a senior in 2019. Friedman said his brother was in speech all four years of high school.

“He got me interested in speech. I’ve been passionate about math my whole life. I went up a grade in math in second grade and I love all parts of math,” Friedman said. “I had a lot of trouble picking a topic at the start. I knew I could write a piece on many things.”

Friedman said he was trying to decide which subject would go best and what worked to be an exciting speech. His process of selection involved a list of things he was interested in.

“A lot of my classmates and people I know don’t like math. I’ve used a lot of things I included in my speech as quotes to them so it didn’t take me very long to write the six-paragraph speech on math,” he said.

Puns were important in his individual speech — “Overall a little dose of geometry will definitely — shape up your life. Your problem-solving skills may be the — variable that puts you ahead of the competition. As you can see, statistics are quite useful, if you see what I — mean.” He talked about geometry, algebra and statistics.

He said the use of puns, which also was used in the Newton large group All-State presentation, interjects humor into a speech. He said puns make it more enjoyable for the listeners.

The Newton large group Friedman was in which earned a I rating was a radio broadcasting group with a Breakfast Club theme. The large group regional and state contests were in February. Other members were Molly Coy, Jackson Mace-Maynard, Izzy Gonzales, Makayla Pearson, Haley Sevenbergen and Johnny Valtman.

Friedman had an active freshman year participating in robotics, Battle of the Books, drama, band and jazz band and two sports — cross country and soccer. He is the son of Bryan and Robyn Friedman.

“I’m excited for next year,” he said.

“Why math is important” (expository address)

By Leo Friedman

Imagine this: you are in your high school math class doing a math problem, and as you forget how to solve it because you didn’t pay attention to your instructor (*clears throat), you think to yourself, why do we have to do this to graduate? That is a wonderful question, why is math important? Important enough that every public school requires that their students take it. The answer to this question is long and complex, so sit back, relax, and I will answer your question.

To find out why math is important, you first need to know what math is. Dictionary.com defines mathematics as the systematic treatment of magnitude, relationships between figures and forms, and relations between quantities expressed symbolically. Wow. That may be a lot to comprehend. Here’s a simplified version of what they were trying to say: Basically, mathematics is a mix of geometry, algebra, and identifying and analyzing statistics, and how these aspects relate. You may still be wondering why these aspects of math are important in your daily life, so I will explain all of them individually.

First of all, geometry. When you think of geometry, mostly shapes and angles come to mind. You probably won’t be asked to find the six trigonometric functions of a triangle in your daily life, but geometry is a subject where some formulas may be useful. Put simply, if you need to buy almost any house improvement items, you will need to find the area of the carpet, wall, or other surfaces. Knowing formulas like the area and volume formulas are useful, and knowing shapes and their properties can help with spacial awareness. There are many careers involving geometry, including artists, architects, and many types of engineers. Overall a little dose of geometry will definitely (pause) shape up your life.

Algebra is labeled by some as pointless if they aren’t going into a math career, but there are elements of algebra that actually make it very helpful for any career. The main reason to make all children learn how to solve math problems is to improve their problem-solving skills. It may sound unimportant, but many employers look for good problem-solving skills in their employees, and if something comes up, you will be prepared to tackle the situation with all of your practice deciphering math problems. Some other things that could help you are the responsibility, time-management, and logic and reasoning skills that algebra provides. Your problem-solving skills may be the (pause) variable that puts you ahead of the competition.

In a world of largely popular politics, sports and shopping, statistics are vital to comprehend. In political campaign ads, many candidates use statistics to try and talk you into making you think they are better candidates than they really are. Understanding how to identify biased information, and how it can be wrongly presented is an extremely important skill taught by statistics. In sports, teams are becoming more and more invested in analytics, so it is a great statistical skill to know what the stats are so that you can stay informed about all of your favorite teams. Applying statistics to real life can help you save money in places like the grocery store. Knowing how to do percent off prices and unit prices are great assets to have so you can compare two items. Stores try to trick you, making deals seem too good to be true, so it is vital to know how to tell a good deal from a marketing ploy.

As you can see, statistics are quite useful, if you see what I (pause) mean.

In sum, mathematics is a very useful subject that has a rightful place in all of our nation’s school districts. Knowing area and other formulas, having problem-solving skills and being able to use statistics in life are all exponentially important ideas taught in your math classrooms. Now that you know why math is important, get back to work before your teacher yells at you!

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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