Upstate NY Students Earn State & National Honors Thanks to Speech & Debate
It's incredible how a little known competition in our area creates an opportunity of a lifetime for these students.
Though it's unpopular in Central New York, almost everybody knows about it in bigger markets. And there are so many great reasons why.
Speech & Debate
What sport is that? Yup... a question I was actually asked by someone in college. Where people look like they are just talking to walls, they are actually doing something much bigger than that. Building fundamental interpersonal and communication skills to last a lifetime.
Speech & Debate is a club at Mount Markham, coached by Suzanne Culver, where students compete in a variety of different events, all working towards the goal of going to the state and national tournament. The events range from everything, from doing a 10 minute play all by yourself (Humorous/Dramatic Interpretation) to debating national/state topics on both sides of the argument (Lincoln Douglas Debate).
If you think "oh, this is just for the nerds"... then you'd be surprised what famous people have actually benefitted from competing in it throughout the years. Notable names include Stephen Colbert, Nancy Cartwright, Josh Gad, Chadwick Bozeman, Zac Efron and so many more.
Students at Mt. Markham compete at the regional level (in Albany) before qualifying for states and nationals. This year, the team did phenomenal.
New York State Tournament - Bronx, NY
This year, over 70 schools and 1100 students competed in the Bronx for top honors in a variety of categories. But that didn't faze anyone from our region.
For Mt. Markham, MacKenzie Roth and Nicholas Thomas both finished in the top half of their events. A great accomplishment for first-year competitors. Junior Lana Mahar was exceptional, finishing 3rd overall in her event. They became the first student ever from Mt. Markham to make it into finals in an event.
To put it in perspective, most other students competing are from private schools who specialize in many events the tournament offers. Lana proved it doesn't matter where you're from or how big your school is, hard work pays off.
NCFL Grand National Tournament - Louisville, KY
One of the greatest honors of competing in Speech & Debate is getting to travel AND compete at the national level. This year the students went off to Louisville, Kentucky for the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament.
All students competed well, but also used the opportunity to explore and learn more about Louisville. For some, it was their first time traveling out of New York State. The fact forensics could provide an opportunity like this, it's absolutely priceless.
As someone who competed in Speech & Debate in high school, I cannot express enough how much this changed my life. Not only did I get to travel to Sacramento, Ft. Lauderdale, and Louisville to take in the sights, but I also learned incredible skills that helped me both in my professional and personal life.
Above all, I made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. To be honest, this is all something sports in school could never guarantee, but Speech & Debate could. Congrats to Mt. Markham and their continued success. I hope other districts across Central New York see this and give their students the amazing opportunity to grow like I did.