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Ten CHS speech and debaters headed to nats

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Palm trees sway in the salt-filled air. The sun beats down on the sand, making it clash with the cold Gulf of Mexico. People swarm the boardwalks with a drink in one hand and a towel in another. The days are longer, the nights are shorter and the sunsets paint masterpieces in the sky. Who wouldn’t want to vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June?

For ten Canfield High School students, they won’t be spending their time in Fort Lauderdale at the beach, but at the National Speech and Debate Tournament.

These talented students competed at a national qualifying tournament on February 16-17, going up against the best competition in the Youngstown District. These ten students include Jared Cross, Dominic DeRamo, Gregory Halley, Jessica Lee, Eva Lamberson, Michael Factor, Taryn Rothbauer, Jennifer Smith, Dominic DuPonty and Drake Safranic.

Jared Cross has been in speech and debate for four years, and he qualified to the national tournament in Humorous Interpretation. When he found out he qualified, he said, “It honestly felt incredible…it made me really really happy.” Jared hopes that he makes it into the top 60, because it will truly show how hard he worked.

Dom DeRamo has been in speech and debate for three years, but this isn’t his first time qualifying to the national tournament in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. He also qualified last year, as a sophomore. He is  ecstatic about going again.

“It’s validation for all the hard work I put in. I definitely prepared a lot for the national qualifying tournament,” Deramo explained. He prepares two to three speeches everyday leading up to the qualifying tournament and he hopes to be in the top 60 in the nation.

Gregory Halley stepped up to the mic this year and showed his true colors. He has been in speech and debate for three years, but he had never qualified to nationals, until this year. He qualified in informative speaking, and this made him feel like he accomplished something during his speech career.

“It shows a certain level of skill and talent, but I plan on getting first at nationals as compensation for state,” Halley said. He plans to practice every day to make sure he does as well as he wants to do.

Jessica Lee is a runner up for nationals, but her chances of going to nationals are extremely likely. She is a junior and has been in speech for three years. She is in Lincoln Douglas debate and she has never been to nationals. She explains that the student who qualified instead of her goes to Austintown and the school system doesn’t usually send students to nationals. Lee is very excited and anxious to hear if she will go or not.

She said, “I was very surprised that I was doing so well.”

If she goes to nationals, she wants to try and do well by prepping as hard as she can, and just enjoy her time and experiences.

Eva Lamberson qualified to nationals in Lincoln Douglas debate and she competed at nationals last year in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been in speech and debate for her entire high school career, and she is ecstatic to do so again. Lamberson explained that going to nationals last year made her appreciate how well she was at debating, and she needed to appreciate the connections she made with others.

“It means a lot to represent our district and work with a lot of my favorite people from other schools and our school.” Her goal is to be in the top 14, which she thinks is very reasonable, because she was so close to achieving that goal last year.

Taryn Rothbauer and Michael Factor are both seniors and they compete in Public Forum Debate. Michael has been in speech and debate for four years, competing in public forum his entire speech and debate career. Taryn has also been in speech and debate for four years but she competed in Original Oratory,  a speech event, for three years, and she competed in Public Forum her final year. Factor has been to nationals once with his old partner, and he says it exposed him to the best of the best in the nation. Rothbauer has never been to nationals, but she’s glad shes going with Mike.

Rothbauer said, “It’s surreal, especially because I threw myself into a new category and I spent a lot of the season worrying weather or not I would do well and this solidified that our hard work paid off.”

Factor is okay with however they do; just getting to nationals was good enough for him but breaking his record from last year (top 46) would be fantastic.

Jennifer Smith and Dominic DuPonty are also national qualifiers in Public Forum debate. Smith has been in speech and debate for two years while DuPonty has been in speech and debate for four years. Smith and DuPonty both qualified in public forum last year and it was a huge accomplishment, especially for Jen because it was her first year in speech and debate. This year they are throwing themselves head on into the national competition, and they can’t wait to see what’s next.

DuPonty said, “It was a very long haul to the top to qualify to nationals, but I know it was all worth it.”

When asked what their expectations were, they said they wanted to do better than they did last year, especially since Dom and Jen got second place at state. They jokingly add that if they beat their record from last year, Mr. Courtney will get a tattoo of whatever they want. In all seriousness though, the two are ready to take on nationals, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for them.

Drake Safranic was the last to qualify to nationals from Canfield, because his category holds its qualifying tournament on a different day. Last Saturday, Drake qualified to Nationals in Congressional Debate and he has been in speech for four years. Safranic explains that he went to nationals last year as a junior and it was a great experience because he got to see competition from all across the nation.

He said, “It’s an excellent experience and a great opportunity to engage in a higher level of debate and I’m so excited.” He hopes to be in the national semi- final for his chamber and be in the top 50.

The ten national qualifiers will compete from June 17th-22nd.

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Ten CHS speech and debaters headed to nats