Contributed by Alex Foltz
The Muscatine High School Speech and Debate Team recently broke a school record that lasted 84 years. A total of 11 students qualified for the national competition. The previous record was seven students.
Muscatine High School Speech and Debate, also known as Forensics, was chartered in 1930. According to the team’s website, Muscatine High School has sent more students to the national competition than any other school in the state of Iowa. It is not to be confused with the High School Speech Association.
According to the website, “The National Forensics League is an honor society created to recognize high school students in speech and debate.” The site claims that the organization is the oldest and largest interscholastic forensic organization. The Iowa High School Forensic League is open to both junior and senior high schools across the state of Iowa.
The National Forensics League operates as an honor society for the National Speech and Debate Association. Some alumni of note include President Lyndon B. Johnson, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Renee Zellweger, and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
For the National Forensic League, a student can qualify for nationals at the district competition. This differs from other organizations, such as FFA, as FFA members must qualify at the district level to advance to state, where they can then qualify for nationals.
There are eight categories from which students can select when they decide to make a speech. These are International Extemporaneous Speaking, U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, Humorous Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, and Duo Interpretation. The debate side has four categories. These include Public Forum, Policy Debate, Congress, and Lincoln-Douglas Debate. The Congress category has districts at a separate time.
“A lot of people’s number one fear is public speaking,” Seery Awbrey, team president, said in an interview with the Muscatine Journal. “Here we are forced to do that for each other literally almost every single day of the week. We don’t even have time to be afraid because we all have to just do it in front of each other.”
The students that qualified for nationals are: Derek Sloat in International Extemporaneous Speaking, Gabe Dipple and Daniel Salazar in Humorous Interpretation, Kristen Schlawin and Jeremiah Daniels in Program Oral Interpretation, Ezekiel Ellis in Dramatic Interpretation, Kjirsten Osland in Orginial Oratory, and the two teams of Duo Interpretation, which include Macey Webber and Awbrey on one team and Hannah Pautz and Caylie McConnaha on the other.
Ellis and Daniels will be attending the national competition for their third year in a row. Dipple, Webber, Awbrey, and Salazar will all be attending the national competition for the second year in a row.
The national tournament has been held since 1931. According to the national website, it is the largest academic competition in the world, with more than 3,500 students competing every year. It will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from June 17-22. For more information, please visit www.speechanddebate.org.