Walla Walla High speech, debate have 'incredible showing' at state

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Making it to finals in every event in which they competed — a first — members of the Walla Walla High School Speech and Debate Team had “an incredible showing” at the state individual events tournament at the University of Puget Sound, said their coach, Jean Tobin.

Junior Maggie Grant-Herriot garnered the state championship in original oratory with a speech about culture’s obsession with celebrities. Her sister Hope, Wa-Hi Class of 2013, was state champ in oratory.

Senior Kendall Dunovant placed third in impromptu with a 6-minute speech on wisdom, in her first time at state finals.

Also making the finals were juniors Emma Gregorie and Anna Apostolidis-Morefield.

Wa-Hi has had three state champions in individual events in the three years, Jean said. And the school’s team placed fifth in the state overall in sweepstakes for the second time in a row.

Wa-Hi teammates competed in extemporaneous speaking, impromptu, original oratory, expository and interpretive reading. Approximately 500 students attended the tournament and at least 70 students from schools around Washington competed in each event.

“These students ... worked very hard to achieve this success and devoted a lot of time and energy to competition. I am also grateful for the support of our District, especially Pete Peterson’s leadership. He has made our success possible through his support,” Jean said.

Hours of additional aid came from volunteers Annie Capestany and Jim Hanson. Annie helped students revise and edit their pieces to create powerful speeches in interpretive reading, oratory and expository. She watched practices and offered constructive advice on how to improve their performance, Jean said.

Jim helped the program achieve significant success in extemporaneous speech this year. He guided speakers in how to structure speeches and held students to high standards, expecting them to include significant support for their arguments and provide vivid examples of their points.

The group’s final tournament of the year in state debate was Friday and Saturday at UPS. Seven students competed in Lincoln-Douglas, congressional and policy debate. Results to come.

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