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TF North students place in state speech competition

Information provided by Thornton Fractional High School District 215

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (February 26, 2021) – Last weekend, Thornton Fractional North students
 Destinee Owens and Kayla Gilmore represented Thornton Fractional
 District 215 at the Illinois High School Association state speech 
tournament. The state tournament on February 19 and 20 was held 
virtually, as was the entire IHSA speech competition season.

Kayla Gilmore

Gilmore, a senior at TF North, qualified for the state competition in both
 the prose and poetry reading events and finished second in the state in 
poetry reading. Gilmore performed a program that combined excerpts
 from several poems on the topic of the “#SayHerName” campaign. The
 campaign centers on overlooked police violence against women of color. Gilmore finishes her
 high school career with 83 speech competition medals, setting a record at TF North.

team coach Shaunwell Posley said, “It has been such a pleasure coaching Kayla and watching
 her grow as a speech competitor. She is exceptional.” Gilmore plans to further her education next
 fall but hasn’t yet made a final decision on where she will attend.

Destinee Owens

Owens, a sophomore, finished third in the state in dramatic interpretation. Her performance was
 an excerpt from the book “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” by Sybrina 
Fulton and Tracy Martin. After earning five medals her freshman year, Owens secured 28 medals
 during the 2020-2021 competition season and plans to return to compete with the TF North
 speech team next year.

“Incredibly gifted” women

TF North principal Brian Rucinski said, “In a year that has been full of so many obstacles,
Kayla and Destinee’s dedication has given the entire school the opportunity to be proud and
 celebrate. I’m especially proud that Kayla and Destinee both chose pieces that took dead aim at
 injustices they face as young women of color.”

District 215 Superintendent Dr. Jones-Redmond added,
 “These young women are incredibly gifted and had a very dedicated coach. I could not be more 
proud of their accomplishments at the state competition.”

Recordings of Gilmore and Owens performing their pieces were included in TF North’s virtual 
celebration of Black History Month.


The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.


  1. We have many really talented students in District 215. These two young ladies are an excellent example of the high quality people who are involved in excellent programs every day within the district. This happens all the time. But, our staff and students have really stepped up to keep these programs going during this very difficult time we have all been experiencing. Thanks to the Journal for highlighting their achievements.

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