Seniors soar at state championships


Seniors Morgan Johnson and Arielle Kirven qualified for the State Championships in January. Courtesy of Arielle Kirven

This weekend, the Sacred Heart Greenwich Speech and Debate team seniors celebrated four years of elocutionary elegance at the New York State Championships at Hofstra University.
Seven Upper School members ventured out this weekend to compete. Freshman Emma Caruso and junior Kate Ruberti competed in the Student Congress category, which involved students drafting speeches and debating bills.
Competing in Speech, Sophomores Meredith Wilson and Cara Janney worked together in the Duo Interpretation category. Participants in this category must memorize and present a dramatic scene without making eye contact or touching each other. Cara and Meredith’s piece was called How t0 Interpret Dually by Mr. Luke Meeken and Mr. Rob Schultz.

Seniors Morgan Johnson and Arielle Kirven qualified for the State Championships in January.
Courtesy of Arielle Kirven

Speech and Debate President Arielle Kirven and Vice President Morgan Johnson, as well as Speech Captain Ava Vanech, represented the class of 2017 at the championships.
Morgan competed in the Student Congress category, where she introduced and promoted bills concerning Chinese aggression, police body cameras, and sanctuary cities.
“I particularly like Student Congress because it’s dynamic. In many of the Speech categories, the participants don’t really speak to or get to know each other,” Morgan said. “For Student Congress, on the other hand, there’s a lot of communication. We need to work together to decide which bills to discuss, and we are directly questioning each other after we give our speeches.”
Morgan has been on the team since her sophomore year, and it has been an integral part of her time at Sacred Heart.
“It’s bittersweet to have been at the last Speech and Debate tournament. In one way, it’s rewarding seeing all of our previous years of hard work pay off and to have gotten to the point where we are now. I know the other seniors and I have spent hours practicing our pieces or speeches, and so to finally be culminating our Speech and Debate careers in this way is satisfying,” Morgan said. “It’s an accomplishment for us to say that we made it to the state tournament, and I’m glad that we were able to share this memory together.”
This weekend, Ava presented a poetry piece, Instructions for a Bad Day, and a prose piece, The Accident, in the Oral Interpretation category. For this category participants select eight to ten minute pieces which they read dramatically from a binder.
“My favorite part about Oral Interpretation is exploring the different characters and learning how to develop and internalize the unique voice and story behind each piece,” Ava said.
Ava initially joined the Speech and Debate Team sophomore year to polish her public speaking skills, but has since found it an opportunity to grow and develop lasting friendships.

“It’s both happy and sad to have competed in our last Speech and Debate tournament this weekend. It was an especially exciting weekend because it was the New York state championships, but it was also sad to know that it was the last tournament with my teammates. We’ve become such a close-knit group the past three years, especially the seniors, and it will be so hard to leave them next year,” Ava said. 

Arielle competed in the Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking category. In this category, participants have 30 minutes to prepare and memorize a speech on an assigned topic. This weekend, Arielle presented on Islamic radicalism, the upcoming British election, and issues regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Extemporaneous Speaking is unique because it relies on the student’s knowledge of current events. Through giving speeches about Iraqi sectarian tensions and domestic healthcare issues, I have become a more informed citizen as a result,” Arielle said.
Arielle has been on the Speech and Debate team since her sophomore year and is going to miss the cranial calisthenics of the Extemporaneous Speaking category.
“Over the past few years, I have made some of my closest friends through Speech and Debate. With graduation in about a month, it is timely that the Speech and Debate season is coming to an end as well. The experience will always be remembered as a highlight of my time at Sacred Heart,” Arielle said.
-Elizabeth Bachmann, Content Editor