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South Speech Team Has Best Finish at Nationals Ever

The team competed against speechers across the country in Dallas from June 13 to 18.

speech had its best-ever finish at the National Forensic League National Tournament in Dallas this month, with one national champion and five other students placing in the top 10 of their events. 

"More than 3,200 students participated in the 2011 NFL National Tournament, one of the world's largest academic contests," according to a district press release. "The event drew visitors from across the country and as far away as China. Top performers take home more than $200,000 in college scholarships."

Claire Drews was named national champion in expository speaking from hundreds of speechers, receiving scholarship money from both the NFL and the event sponsor, Western Kentucky University. She also was presented with a cowboy hat from the Dallas hosts and a lei from the Hawaiian delegation.

Billy Chengary and Michelle McCarthy finished third in Duo Interpretation, receiving scholarship money from Colorado College. Junior Erin M. Walsh finished sixth in Dramatic Interpretation and graduating senior Milap Mehta finished sixth in International Extemporaneous Speaking. Walsh was also a quarter-finalist in Humorous Interpretation, finishing twenty-third in the nation.

With their success, Chengary, McCarthy and Walsh have automatically qualified for the 2011-12 tournament, which will be held next June in Indianapolis.

Senior Ed Roberge finished seventh in United States Extemporaneous Speaking, "missing the break to finals by only three points," the release said. 

Roberge also received the "Show Me Excellence Award," which recognizes students who have qualified for the national tournament four times. Roberge was one of only 24 students to receive the award. He was also the top point student in Illinois for the 2010-11 school year and the Illini District Student of the Year.

Also representing South High School in Dallas were: Stephanie Flowers in Oratory, Tim Chow in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the teams of Mitchell Bild, Supal Mehta, Austin Tolentino and Jack LeBaron in the Public Forum Debate.

In total, the team compiled 74 elimination rounds from the tournament, which qualified the team for the "School of Excellence Award in Speech," given to schools whose students must compete in a minimum of 50 elimination rounds. Thirteen schools received the honor.

Head Coach Jan Heiteen accepted the “School of Excellence Award” on behalf of the team, according to the release. Heiteen also received the “NFL Distinguished Service Award” and “District Chair Gold Award.”

“Our students were among the elite speakers from around the country and they just shined in the electrifying atmosphere,” Heiteen said in the release. “There’s no other competition like this, where students are not only judged on their talents, but also receive support for their educational endeavors through scholarships.”

Also traveling with the team and Heiteen were coaches Elighie Wilson, Christopher Blum, Justin Matkovich and alumni and 2008 National Forensic League Student of the Year, Kyle Akerman, the release said. 

The tournament was held from June 13 to 18 in Dallas. To attend, students must qualify at one of NFL’s 106 district tournaments.

National competition occurs in 10 main events — Policy Debate, Public Forum Debate, Lincoln Douglas Debate, Congressional Debate, Original Oratory, United States Extemporaneous Speaking, International Extemporaneous Speaking, and Humorous, Dramatic, and Duo Interpretation — as well as seven consolation and supplemental events.

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