Niles High School senior takes top prize in state speech competition

Local News

A Niles McKinley senior has taken home the top prize after competing in the state finals for speech. Ma’Lik Kirksey is now the 13th state speech champion in school history.

Just watching Kirksey, who placed first in Dramatic Interpretation, you can tell he’s meant to perform.

In an empty classroom with just a reporter and a camera, he reenacted his drama piece of Richard Pryor’s “Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences.”

“My thing was I was hoping just to break our ten-year curse. I didn’t care if I got in fourth, as long as I wasn’t fifth. I was OK with that so me getting first was just a bonus for me,” Kirksey said.

His performance took the top spot in the Drama category at the Ohio Speech and Debate Association’s State Finals.

“I was a little overwhelmed and then in the same breath, I was like…I feel like I could do more,” Kirksey said.

He joined the Niles speech team as a sophomore.

“Speech has given me a lot of responsibility, discipline, motivation, confidence, anything you can think of,” Kirksey said.

His coach, Michael Bassett, spotted his talent instantly. Bassett said he knew Kirksey would be a champion the first day he walked in.

“After doing it so long, you can tell some kids just have a natural talent and a gift, and I talked to him for about five minutes and I told him, ‘You should do this. I think you’re going to be really good at it one day.'”

Kirksey qualified for nationals, too. He’ll be competing in Dallas this June.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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