MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon High School’s Speech and Debate team is experiencing its most successful season ever, and eight members have qualified for the state tournament which will be held March 2 and 3. This is the first time Mount Vernon has sent orators and debaters to the state competition.
Chelsea Kempton and Trent Grohe, Hunter Orr and Tori Hall will represent Mount Vernon in the Public Forum Debate. That is a partner-based debate on controversial issues determined by recent newspaper headlines. It tests skills in argumentation, cross-examination and refutation.
Jacob Miller is the MVHS representative in the state Extemporaneous Speaking contest. He will draw three questions on a domestic current events topic, select one and will have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute answer to the question.
Arie Alvarado, Kirk Menapace and Melander Emrys will be participating in the Congressional Debate. That involves drafting a piece of legislation they feel would better the society, and then speaking about the legislation while following the proper parliamentary procedures. Each competitor is evaluated on argumentative skills, speaking techniques, knowledge of parliamentary procedure and overall participation.
Coach Jeff Gottke said Hall, Miller and Emrys are all first-year members “which makes the future very exciting.”
Reviewing the season Gottke said, “We have 28 members who placed 10th overall in the district and celebrated top-10 finishes in seven tournaments this year. We also awarded our first ever varsity letters. Debate is an activity that requires as much skill and commitment and is just as competitive as varsity athletics. It is exciting that the debate team can be recognized for their success in the same way that athletes are.
“The students worked very hard this year and are a committed group with a great teamwork. I am very excited about the future. We should be able to have even more success next year.”
Varsity letters are awarded based on points earned according to rules of the National Forensic League. For debate events, students earn six point for a win and three points for a loss.
The varsity letters were given out at the Speech and Debate Showcase held Feb. 6. Varsity awardees along with their NFL ranking designation are as follows: Arie Alvarado, excellence; Sarah Bertschy, special distinction; Trent Grohe, distinction; Tori Hall, excellence; Chelsea Kempton, distinction; Kirk Menapace, excellence; Jacob Miller, honor; Nicole Moore, distinction; Hunter Orr, excellence; and Lindsey Studebaker, distinction.
Hall also earned the Rookie of the Year award and Orr received the Most Improved award. Chris Menapace was recognized as the outstanding parent volunteer.