Hosting discourse and debate


Sacred Heart Greenwich students, faculty, and parents hosted the eighteenth annual Sacred Heart Greenwich New York Catholic Forensics League Speech and Debate tournament Saturday, January 28, bringing over 300 students from 21 different New York area schools to compete in Congressional Debate and speech interpretation categories.
In the tournament, students competed in a variety of categories including Student Congress, varsity and junior varsity Oral Interpretation of Literature, Declamation, Dramatic Performance, Original Oratory, Programmed Oral Interpretation of Literature, Duo Interpretation of Literature, and varsity and junior varsity Extemporaneous Speaking. Each category requires students to showcase a different skill set. 

Ava Vanech ’17 received a medal for her finalist position in the varsity Oral interpretation category.
Daisy Steinthal ’19

Oral Interpretation of Literature at both the varsity and junior varsity levels requires students to prepare one ten-minute prose piece and one ten-minute poetry piece. The category allows students to read their text from a binder. However, they must write and memorize a brief introduction to their pieces.
In the varsity level Oral Interpretation, senior Ava Vanech received a medal for her sixth place performances of “The Accident” by Ophira Eisenberg and “Instructions for a Bad Day” by Shane Koyczan. Regis High School senior John Calvelli received first place in the category.
In addition, freshmen Elexa Wilson, Nicole Mellert, Emma Caruso, and sophomores Elizabeth Asprinio, Laura Ferrucci, Sara Hecht, and Emma Demartino competed at the junior varsity level of the Oral Interpretation category. 
Duo Interpretation of Literature involves two students performing one selection of literature. This category focuses more on the dramatic elements of speech and requires the students to memorize their scenes. The students must also write a brief introduction to their scenes. During the introduction, the competitors are allowed to move freely. However, during the performance, the two participants must not make eye contact or touch each other.
Sophomores Meredith Wilson and Cara Janney finished fourth place in the Duo Interpretation category. The two performed an abridged version of the musical Hamilton: An American Musical, focusing on the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and his rival Aaron Burr.
Meredith Wilson ’19 and Cara Janney ’19 accept their fourth place trophies in the Duo Interpretation event.
Daisy Steinthal ’19

“In practices, you stress and focus on getting all the movements, lines, and emotions right, but when you finally perform it for an audience, you really get into your character’s mindset and stop scrutinizing every little detail. I didn’t expect to win a trophy at all, so I’m kind of ecstatic, even though we didn’t rank first,” Cara said.
Extemporaneous Speaking challenges students to write persuasive speeches answering given questions. Students participating have 30 minutes to research and write a speech that answers a question on a current issue. The students then recite their speech from memory to the judges.
Arielle Kirven ’17 and Morgan Johnson ’17 both received trophies in Extemporaneous Speaking.
Daisy Steinthal ’19

In the Extemporaneous Speaking category, Regis High School senior Bobby Schiller placed first. Sacred Heart, however, had two finalists in the event. Senior Arielle Kirven placed fifth for her speeches about Brexit, the women’s march, environmentalism, and U.S. foreign policy regarding Mexico. Senior Morgan Johnsonwho presented speeches on President Mr. Donald Trump’s administration, ratings and revenues in the NFL, the relationship between Mr. Trump and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the French presidential election, placed third.
Senior Jade Cohen also competed in the varsity Extemporaneous Speaking category. Freshman Kate Murray presented speeches at the junior varsity level, but neither student moved past the preliminary rounds.
The final event in the tournament that Sacred Heart students participated in was Student Congress, a debate wherein students prepare legislation about domestic, economic, and foreign affairs before the tournament. During the event, students gather, present their speech and position on the bill or resolution, and vote on the legislation created.
Sacred Heart students Alexandra Yu '17, Kiki Ventura '17, Kate Ruberti '18, and Tiara Macintosh '17 participated in the Student Congress event. Daisy Steinthal '19
Sacred Heart students Alexandra Yu ’17, Kiki Ventura ’17, Kate Ruberti ’18, and Tiara Macintosh ’18 participated in the Student Congress event.
Daisy Steinthal ’19

Two members of the Sacred Heart team were finalists in the Student Congress category. Senior Kiki Ventura and junior Kate Ruberti both received mugs for their success. The overall winner of Student Congress was Sydney Teh, a sophomore at the Bronx High School of Science.
Other members of the Sacred Heart team that competed in Congress were freshmen Malika Amoruso, Valentina Grether, Caroline Badagliacca, sophomores Anissa Arakal, Erin Quigley, Natty Pazos, junior Tiara Macintosh, and senior Alexandra Yu.
Sacred Heart students did not participate in the Declamation, Dramatic Performance, Original Oratory, and Programmed Oral Interpretation of Literature categories.
Declamation involves students reciting a speech another author previously wrote and gave. Scarsdale High School sophomore Julia McMurray placed first in the event. Regis senior Owen Doherty won first place in the Dramatic Performace category which focuses heavily on acting during the presentation of a short monologue or story. Fordham Preparatory School junior Jeacy Espinoza received first place in the Original Oratory category, wherein competitors write a ten-minute persuasive speech on a topic of their choosing.
Finally, Noah Darden, a junior at Iona Preparatory school, won first place in the Programmed Oral Interpretation of Literature category. In Programmed Oral Interpretation, students prepare a speech made up of several written works centered around a single theme.
Three representatives from Regis High School received their team’s first place trophy.
Daisy Steinthal ’19

Regis High School won the tournament overall with a total score of 109. Sacred Heart’s Speech and Debate Team placed fifth with 63 points, with Morgan and Arielle receiving half qualifications for the New York State Championship Tournament.
Morgan had already received two half qualifications for Student Congress qualifying her for the state championship in that category. During this tournament, she received her first half qualification for Extemporaneous Speaking. This was Arielle’s second half qualification for Extemporaneous Speaking, and therefore her performance qualified her for the state tournament.

Upper School History Teacher and Speech and Debate Moderator Mr. Joseph Valentine was extremely proud of both the number of students who participated in the tournament and Sacred Heart students’ achievements.

“All the success the team has is because of the amazingly talented group of young women who are a part of it. They are such a wonderful and exemplary group of competitors that consistently keep me in awe. I am so proud to be a small part of their accomplishments and take such joy in their achievements. Each of them is a true example of being a success, and seeing them compete and unify as a team is by far my biggest enjoyment,” Mr. Valentine said. 

-Daisy Steinthal, Staff Writer