The Chesterton High
School Speech and Debate team made this season a clean sweep after claiming
the Indiana High School Forensics Association’s Ralph Lawson trophy as the
top overall team at the State Speech Tournament. The team had previously won
the state debate title in February. The team amassed a tournament high 152
points to narrowly defeat Fisher’s High School (150 points) and defending
state champion Munster High School (148 points).
The narrow margin
of victory speaks volumes about the performance of Chesterton’s team.
Individuals qualify for the state tournament through the sectional
competition Đ the top six in each event advance to state. Chesterton’s
sectional is widely regarded as the most difficult in the state; this is due
in large part to the inclusion of both Chesterton and Munster in the same
section. Sixty-five schools out of the over 100 registered in the state were
able to qualify entries into the state tournament. At the tournament,
competitors accumulate one point when they reach top 24, (quarterfinals) and
score 3 points if they reach the top 12 (semifinals). Those that advance
into finals score points on an increasing scale based upon their final
placing. Chesterton had eleven non-advancing quarterfinals, eight
non-advancing semifinalists, twelve finalists, and four individual
The event of
impromptu started off a night of celebration for the team after they claimed
the top two spots in final round. Hayden Hodge, a senior, took the overall
title in the event that forces students to deliver a five-minute speech off
of only thirty seconds of preparation. Hodge was also the state runner-up in
United States extemporaneous speaking. Katelyn Balakir was the state
runner-up in the impromptu and Connor Wantuch was a semifinalist. The
performance in this event granted Chesterton 24 total sweepstakes points; a
significant margin considering that no other team scored more than 9 points
in this event. This was Chesterton’s second consecutive title in the event.
Senior Noelle Friel
was crowned the top Orator in the state; claiming the title after performing
her original oratory “One Story at a Time.” The subject of her ten-minute
speech is the damage that we do when we ‘build walls’ around ourselves.
Friel was also able to place fifth overall in the event of Programed Oral
Interpretation (POI). Teammate and fellow senior Natalie Beglin joined her
in the final claiming fifth place overall in Oratory and was a semifinalist
in POI. This is the team’s first state title in Oratory since 2010.
For the second year
in a row Hannah Geiss, a junior, proved herself as the best in the state in
the event of discussion. The event has students compete in roundtable
discussions in the form of a Socratic seminar. Throughout the tournament
students are expected to discuss a diverse set of issues including the arts,
science, mass media, philosophy, current events, and popular culture.
title came from a pair of seniors Keerat Basra and Megan Bernth in the event
Original Performance (OP). Just like Original Oratory, this event shows off
student’s writing ability as the students write their own ten-minute play
and then perform it. Basra and Bernth’s performance, titled “Meera,” borrows
heavily from their friendship and families. Chesterton had last won OP in
its inaugural year in 2004. Sophomore Allen Smith was able to advance to
quarterfinals in OP, and Bernth was also a semifinalist in the event of
highest point total came from the event of Humorous Interpretation. Senior
Izzy Portugal and junior Josh Hogan both advanced and performed in the final
round, with Portugal placing third and Hogan coming in fourth overall.
Sophomore Allen Smith was able to advance to the semifinal round of humor
and junior Amber Johnson finished as a quarterfinalist in the event.
Josh Hogan also
made the final of Duo Interpretation with his partner Logan Summers. Their
interpretation and performance of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ earned them the
honor of third place in the state. Portugal and her partner senior Karly
Carden as well as the team of freshmen Anna Leady and AJ Stirling made it to
quarterfinals in Duo.
Senior Angel Smith
made it into state final round in the event of Poetry, placing third
overall. Smith was also in a semifinalist in POI. Junior Paige Donovan made
it to the semifinals of Dramatic Interpretation; while Carden and senior
James Van Drie finished as quarterfinalists. Van Drie was also a
semifinalist in Poetry.
Madi Ghoreshi made
it to semifinals in International Extemporaneous Speaking while Wantuch was
a quarterfinalist. Juniors Bryn Jackson and Natalia Wadowski both advanced
to the quarterfinals in Informative Speaking. Juniors Aaron Drew and Paul
Petro were quarterfinalists in Radio Broadcasting and senior Nate Scheerer
narrowly missed the quarterfinal and placed 28th overall. Similarly, Chloe
Thomas missed the quarterfinal cut by one spot; placing 25th overall in the
The honors didn’t
end with the team’s recognition, however. Program Director Chris Lowery was
recognized as the state’s Speech and Debate Educator of the Year by the
National Federation Interscholastic Speech and Debate Association. Principal
Jeff Van Drie was able to attend the award’s ceremony to see both the team
and Coach Lowery honored.
“I have had the
opportunity to be a part of so many state championships and it never gets
old. This is a very special group of young people who made up their minds
that this was their year and they made it happen. But it was an especially
rewarding year because two of our coaches, Eric Schaefer and Kayla Fleming,
were members of our last overall championship team in 2007. They and the
rest of the coaching staff worked with these incredible young people to
build a team that understands that work ethic and a positive attitude can
make you a winner,” said Coach Bob Kelly.
This is the team’s
24th state speech title. The team had last won the division title (AAA