WHS Speech Team Places 10th at Nationals

Stephen Bond and Bridget Ryan placed highest of any Walpole student in history


Photo/Emily Murray

Ryan and Bond with their 10th place trophies.

Grace Ryan, News Editor

Over the years, the Walpole High School Speech and Debate Team has continued to make its presence known as they placed through local tournaments and individuals keep rising up the ranks. This year, four members of the speech and debate team worked their way up to nationals. Walpole has qualified for a national tournament the seven of the past eight years, but made history this year with their highest placing.

The National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Grand National Tournament was held in Washington, D.C. on May 28 and May 29, where speech and debate teams from across the United States competed in ten total events. Seniors Sameera Manjrekar and Erin Ledwith qualified as a duo, as did juniors Bridget Ryan and Stephen Bond. This Walpole group was the largest to qualify and attend a national in-person tournament.

Each piece must be under ten minutes and students must act out a story or skit based on memorization. The duos have worked on these skits all year and have continued to make them better and better based on judge and coach feedback. Both the duo groups that went to NCFL nationals competed in Duo Interpretation, but their skits were unique.

“Stephen and Bridget’s piece was about a breakup, which starts out like an exit interview, but then the audience realizes they are finding closure,” coach Emily Murray said. “It’s a heartbreaking piece, which moved me to tears. Erin and Sameera’s duo was comedic filled with funny vignettes about what not to do during a college interview. Their performance is hilarious!”

Over the course of the two days, the duos competed multiple times in order to continue into the next round. Mandjrekar and Ledwith placed in the top 70 of a group of over 150. Additionally, Bond and Ryan placed 10th overall, which is the highest any Walpole student has placed at any national tournament!

“Not only did Stephen and Bridget rank 10th in the nation, but they, as well as Erin Ledwith and Sameera Manjrekar, had an amazing experience and learned so much,” Murray said. Despite fierce competition,
the team enjoyed their time in D.C. including outside of the competition.

“We definitely had so much fun and learned a lot through this experience. It was nice to have
all of our work over the past year end at an experience like nationals, and the history we made was just a bonus,” Bond said.

Ledwith will compete at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) national tournament the week of June 13 for Dramatic Interpretation. History continues to be made this year as Ledwith is only one of three Massachusetts students attending and is the first Walpole student in history to qualify for both the NSDA and NCFL national tournaments.