Speech Hosts Tournament for First Time


Tara Gordon

The Walpole High Speech and Debate Team hosted the annual Novice Tournament for the first time in school history on October 22. The tournament lasted from 7:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m., where over 500 people, comprised of team coaches and members from speech teams across the state, came to Walpole High School to observe, compete and judge different categories. The team was responsible for providing breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the tournament.

Speech tournaments throughout competition season are typically hosted by more experienced speech teams in the state. Walpole, however, is a fairly new team, and spent months preparing for the Novice Tournament.

  “This is our fifth year, so to be able to have an application accepted is a big deal and I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Walpole High Speech Team head coach Emily Murray.

The Novice Tournament, which is for first year competitors, allows the beginning students to compete with other teams across the state. Novices compete in their rounds similar to a regular tournament;however, there is no final round for any category.

Following the conclusion of the rounds, competitors and judges go to the auditorium and watch performances from past state and national winners.

  “It is a great learning experience because new students to this activity can compete with other new students across the state,” said Murray. “It’s less intimidating, they get feedback, and usually the judges are experienced students who are still on their team.”

  Due to the size of the Novice Tournament, many preparations went into the WHS speech team hosting the event.

The team needed to provide classrooms where each speech event, which typically comprises of six competitors and one judge, could take place. In addition, the team needed to find a place for debate rounds and a class to train future judges.

  “We essentially needed to use the entire school,” said Murray.

  The Walpole High team had six novices participating in the tournament, with three students competing in speech categories and three competing in debate.

  “It was an awesome way to meet students from other towns and it exposed me to a new atmosphere which was very different from Walpole High,” said team member and novice competitor Jenna Walsh.

  Along with Walpole’s competitors, Mia Straccia, president of the team, judged other competitors in addition to helping organize the event.

  “I was a judge throughout the day, and it was awesome to see so many novices excited about participating in speech,” said Straccia.

  The tournament concluded around 3:00 p.m., following the end of the performances. At the end of the day, the WHS speech team raised $2,484 from concessions, which will go towards future tournaments that the team will attend throughout the year.

“The tournament went really great! It seemed like all the novices were having a good time, and we also raised a lot of money in the process,” said senior member Greg Bond.

“The novice tournament was a great experience for the team, because we all had to work together in order to make this long day run smoothly,” said Straccia. “Speech is such an amazing community to be a part of, and I am so glad that I joined.”