Uniting acting and history through the Speech and Debate team

The Sacred Heart Greenwich Speech and Debate team hosted a tournament this past Saturday, February 2.  The team is part of the New York Catholic Forensics League (NYCFL) which organized the competition to include over ten different high schools from across the tri-state area.  Students from each grade in the Upper School worked either individually or in teams to compete in various different categories.

Meredith Wilson ’19 won 5th place in Oral Interpretation. Courtesy of Mrs. Jenn Bensen

This year, junior Emma Caruso is the Captain of Debate and seniors Meredith Wilson and Cara Janney are the Co-Captains of Speech and the Co-Captains of the collective Speech and Debate Team.  Members of the team meet about twice a month to discuss strategies of how to “break,” or win, competitions.  

“The Sacred Heart Speech and Debate team brings girls with love for acting, debate, history, current events, politics, and more together,” Emma said.

Under the guidance of Mr. Joseph Valentine, Upper School History Teacher and Speech and Debate moderator and Ms. Stephanie Haas, Middle School History Teacher, team members can participate in rounds in Oral Interpretation, Extemporaneous Speech, and Student Congress.  Oral Interpretation and Extemporaneous Speech are part of the speech category, while the Student Congress is a mixture of speech and debate.  

Cara Janney ’19, Meredith Wilson ’19, Valentina Grether ’20, Angélique Wheeler ’22, and Elexa Wilson ’20 participated in the Speech and Debate tournament. Courtesy of Mrs. Jenn Bensen

Although the Speech and Debate events require individual work and presentation, teamwork is still a crucial part of the competition.

“One of the aspects I most enjoy about being a member of the team is the sense of camaraderie amongst the entire group during tournaments,” Meredith said.  “While tournaments are incredibly fun events, there are sometimes moments when they can feel a bit tiring or stressful, and it is wonderful to have your team to go back to and relax with after a particularly difficult round.”

In Saturday’s tournament, Cara, Meredith, and juniors Valentina Grether and Elexa Wilson participated in Varsity Oral Interpretation, while freshman Angélique Wheeler participated in Extemporaneous Speech.  Scarsdale High School received first place overall, and Meredith placed fifth in Varsity Oral Interpretation for the Sacred Heart Speech and Debate team.

“We are so proud that Meredith Wilson placed 5th in [Oral Interpretation] on Saturday,” Ms. Haas said.  “Oral Interpretation requires competitors to prepare a prose and poetry piece which they read from a binder in a way that is engaging and expressive. It’s simple in theory, but difficult to do well.”

Many students, including Emma, appreciate how Speech and Debate brings together different aspects of academics, all while allowing students to share their unique ideas on issues that interest them.

“My favorite part of Speech and Debate is meeting new people, as well as applying knowledge that I learn from research [and] school into my debate cases,” Emma said.  “I love being able to present arguments that I feel very strongly about and allow my passion for the topic guide me to win a round.”

Featured Image by Sydney Kim ‘20