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Speaking of Speech and Debate…

Juniors+Brian+Smith+and+Sarah+Mackin+participate+in+Speech+and+Debate.
Juniors Brian Smith and Sarah Mackin participate in Speech and Debate.

Juniors Brian Smith and Sarah Mackin participate in Speech and Debate.

Talia Trackim

Talia Trackim

Juniors Brian Smith and Sarah Mackin participate in Speech and Debate.

Allison Borelli, Features Editor

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The Southern Lehigh speech and debate team has recently competed in the last of its qualifying tournaments, the National Speech and Debate Association tournament qualifier. This event took place on March 11-12,  and while no one was able to directly move on, three team members — seniors Fiona Bultonsheen, Lucy Zhang, and Naomi Li — have the chance to go in a supplementary event.

“We’ve had some really good performances and successes of veteran team members [and] newbies,” speech and debate coach Mr. David Long said. “It’s been a very successful season.”

The speech and debate team participates in three leagues:the National Speech and Debate association (NSDA), National Catholic Forensics League (NCFL), and States. No one from Southern Lehigh qualified directly to NSDA nationals in their event. However the seniors will be participating in a supplementary event, World Schools Debate, at NSDA Nationals.

“States, in my opinion, is one of the most fun tournaments of the year,” junior Sarah Mackin said, “and there was that little added pressure that I put on myself from qualifying the past two years.”

Seven students on the team qualified for the state tournament at Susquehanna University on April 8-9, including Mackin in Informative Speaking, senior and team captain Naomi Li in Persuasive Speaking, sophomore Melissa Stough in Poetry, senior David Rush and Alex Becker in Duo Interpretation, junior Bryanne Kelly in Extemporaneous Speaking, and freshman Kullen Yurchak in Congress.  

The team will also be sending eleven people to the NCFL Nationals from May 27-30, including Li in Original Oratory, Stough in Oral Interpretation, Rush and Becker in Duo Interpretation, Kelly in Extemporaneous speaking, Yurchak and fello freshman Ryan Sheats in Congress, junior Talia Trackim in Oral Interpretation, seniors Lucy Zhang and Fiona Bultonsheen in Duo Interpretation, and junior Georgian Fan in Dramatic Performance.

“In most cases it’s really exciting [to advance to states and nationals], because you work so hard, and for that hard work to pay off is really refreshing, but other times, say after four rounds in a day, it’s kind of like you just wanna stop,” sophomore Melissa Stough said, ”But no matter how much anyone complains about having to keep competing it’s more exciting than anything.”

“[Winning] is very relieving more than anything else,” Li said, “And very exciting because not just for the fact that it’s the next level, but because of the time I”ll be spending with the team and because it’s my last year.”

So, what exactly does the speech and debate team do? Well, speech and debate are two different categories entirely, each with its own unique subsets.

The “speech” part is pretty self explanatory. Students prepare a speech in a particular category following the rules of said category and then perform it.  The debate side involves going back and forth on a topic pertaining to the category, whether that be between individuals or in pairs.

“A lot of times people don’t realize that they have to work at it, that it’s something that just like every competition activity that you have to prepare,” Mr. Long said. “It’s not something they can just do.”

“Speech and debate has really taught me really good values in public speaking and public values,” freshman Kullen Yurchak said.

While the members of the team put a lot of hard work into their performances, they also enjoy spending time with each other.

“Anytime that we are…together in a small area, whether it’s the hotel room or the van, we really get to see everyone’s individual personalities come out,” Li said, “Every single person has a distinctive personality on this team, and a very specific niche, and it shows that we are a monolith built on variety and diversity.”

“It’s very cliche,” Mackin said, “but we are like a family.”

The speech and debate team will host their own invitational tournament at Southern Lehigh on April 30, and they will continue competing beyond the end of the school year at the NSDA tournament June 11-18.

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