For the First Time, Speech Team Competes at Massachusetts States Tournament


The Speech Team attends a successful tournament at Newton-South High School where four students received a bid for States.

Erin Pitman

Since the start of the Walpole High School Speech Team in 2011, no member had ever qualified for the Massachusetts Speech and Debate States Tournament. However, this year marks the beginning of a new era for the team as five of their members traveled to the State Tournament on April 5, 2014 at Acton-Boxborough High School.

Each student participated in one of two categories that the Walpole Speech Team had qualified in: Group Discussion or Prose Reading. Junior Samantha Corcoran, and sophomores Grace Hoegler and Cornelius Goodrich competed in Group Discussion, where each candidate argued a topic in a small group consisting of other contestants featuring schools from all over Massachusetts. In Prose Reading, Catriona Garry, junior and Kianna Kiazer, freshman, read excerpts from different writing pieces, including speeches and novels, and are judged in their ability to present their piece with articulate speaking, eye contact, and emotion.

In order to acquire these spots in the State Tournament, each student had to have at least two tournament bids. To have a tournament bid, each participant needed to place better than ninth in their category at a previous tournament.  However, if students were close to qualifying but missed by a place or two, the advisor can still enter them.  Ms. Emily Loflin, the Speech Team advisor, entered that Garry and Kiazer despite each only having one official bid to States.

” I am really proud of both girls for getting earlier bids earlier in the year that were really impressive,” Loflin said, “and they both were so close, so I felt like they deserved the chance to go on to States.”

At 8:30 AM, all of the contestants gathered in the cafeteria at Acton-Boxborough High School to wait for their call sheets that determine where and when their categories takes place.

To determine if the competitor continued on in the tournament (or “broke” through to the next round), the student had to place at least first or second in one of their rounds against other contestants.

Unfortunately, by the end of the meet, no Walpole High School Students broke through to qualify for semi-finals.  Hoegler came the closest, but she finished two or three points shy of breaking.

Hoegler said, “States is definitely more challenging just because it’s the best of the best, and everyone is performing their best.  But also, it’s more exhilarating because you know that everyone here really loves what they are doing.”

Although their season ended, this year has been the most accomplished year for the Speech Team in its history at Walpole High School.  On Thursday, May 1, they even hosted a “Speechie Showcase” in the high school auditorium where members performed their pieces for students interested in joining Speech Team next year.

“The Speech Team is a great club to join because we are all really friendly,” Corcoran said, “and we are trying to organize more activities next year; overall, though we are a really close-knit group and have a lot of fun.”

To new members who would like to join the team next year who want to find a niche where they fit in the high school, Garry said, “I feel proud because I, like some other people, didn’t play sports growing up, so it’s very exciting to have made it to this tournament.”