WHS Speech Team Places in Fall Festival


The Speech Team competed at Revere High School. (Photo/Emily Murray)

Ciara Foley, A&E Editor

On Oct. 29, Walpole High’s Speech and Debate team competed in their second tournament of the 2022-2023 school year. Different from tournaments in the past, the team made their way to a bronze medal, placing third out of 15 competing nearby towns. 

The Fall Festival, which took place at Revere High School, consisted of schools such as Catholic Memorial and Shrewsbury, two successful competitors that placed first and second. Walpole Speech and Debate has attended this particular competition every year, but has not ranked as well—this year was the team’s best rank at this particular competition. The day was typical to any other Speech and Debate tournament, as each attendee was able to participate at least three times in preliminary rounds. 

“I think it’s really cool that kids are trying new things and not sticking to what’s comfortable,” head coach Emily Murray said. “Each one spoke three to four times, or had to perform depending on their event. It was definitely well worth it and everyone was excited.”

Although speech tournaments can be an tedious process, the results turned out to be worth it as Walpole returned home with eight finalists: Bhakti Belle, Nirjara Akkole, Emeli Cruz, Dyuthi Prashanth, Stephen Bond, Shayna Jain, Favor Nyende and Amritha Devaraj. Each finalist came from a variety of events, from Radio Broadcasting to Children’s Literature, and earned a ranking from first to seventh. Alongside this, most finalists were unsurprisingly a part of the freshmen and sophomore class. Moreover, most of the success transpired from lowerclassmen as 

“It’s not that you want a group of kids that place and move on to the final round,” Murray said. “It’s that you want to have a group of kids with diversity, where you have somebody in each event. I think that’s the reason why we placed so high.”

Additionally, freshmen Sara Axelord and Sarah Joshi competed at the online Averill Debate Tournament. Despite the two debuting their debate careers only that same week, both excelled, with Sara Axelord placing 8th overall and earning a bid to compete at States. Winning awards or not, the team always looks for opportunities to improve and celebrate their members.

“Since it was my second tournament, it was much better as I held my position and always referred back to my values,” Joshi said. “I feel like I’m getting better with the help of my team, I have a great experience with them.”

The team is looking forward to the rest of the year and has high hopes, especially concerning the underclassmen who will continue the legacy of the speech and debate team in the coming years. The sophomore class has been recognized for their tireless efforts and high placements, and hopes to carry that spirit with their teammates, especially their freshmen.

“I think a big part of it is that kids are willing to take risks, and they’re practicing more on their own.” Murray said. “Just to be in Catholic Memorial and Shrewbury’s wheelhouse was awesome.”