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Zack Holtz’s Hard Work in Speech and Debate Pays Off and Shows His True Character

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Allie Mikolanis (`19), Sabrina Bauman (`18), Zack Holtz (`18), and Sebastian Williams (`18) post for a picture after receiving plaques for their placement in a speech tournament.

Zack Holtz (`18) is known to be a very successful, active, caring, and passionate member of the Speech & Debate Team at Gilmour Academy. Holtz is on the board for Student Council and is also the co-captain of the Speech team with Sabrina Bauman (`18). Holtz’s main event is Humorous Interpretation (HI), which he absolutely loves. Known for his humor and always making people laugh, this event clearly fits his personality.

Holtz has qualified for states every year since his freshman year, placed second his junior year in states for Ohio, is a three-time National Qualifier. He was recognized by the National Speech & Debate Association and is ranked first nationally, in terms of points, for Humorous Interpretation. The ranking is also based on points which is determined by consistency and excellent performances at tournaments.

He is not only a very successful “speechie,” but is a mentor to others; he helps people reach their goals and works with them one-on-one whenever he can. Holtz canmany times be found two hours past the end of the school day helping others with their pieces or practicing his own piece. Gay Janis, Fine & Performing Arts Instructor and Speech & Drama Instructor, said, “He is a collaborative worker. He is generous with his helping, keeps the tradition going by continually helping others and he embodies the [Holy Cross] charisms.”

Holtz is very competitive and confident on stage as he has theatrical experience and is also the co-captain of the Drama & Theater Club. Janis says, “He was always very talented. It was obvious from the beginning that he was a very solid performer.” As talented as Holtz is, he still practices a lot. He believes in the commonly known quote: “practice makes perfect.” There have been a few times when Holtz has had to really focus on a piece when trying to perfect a certain scene from his HI piece. “The toughest part of humor is definitely getting the comedic timing right. If you say a joke one second too fast or too slow it will flop,” said Holtz.

His success in speech makes people wonder how he stays “on top of everything in the speech world” while being an active person in the Gilmour community. “My friends who are good at speech and acting always push me to do better and learn how to portray a scene more effectively,” Holtz said. This peer support and encouragement makes Holtz keep going and yearning to improve wherever he can.

Holtz’s heart and soul is poured into his Humor Interpretation piece(s), yet he puts his competitive edge aside and always offers advice and constructive criticism for his teammates. Fellow teammate Richard Jones (‘20) said, “Zack is an amazing person. He is exuberant and full of so much energy when he acts or even helps one of us with our pieces.”

In addition to being known for his accomplishments, Holtz is widely considered to be a caring and compassionate person. He is humble about his success which according to his teammates makes him an even more effective co-captain of the Speech team.