By: Alicia Sands Lurry
This past weekend, the Henry W. Grady High School Jesters speech and debate team captured its seventh straight title at the Georgia Forensics Coaches Association Speech and Debate Varsity Championships. The competition was held March 4-5 at Northview High School in Johns Creek.
In addition to being crowned Speech, Debate and Overall Sweepstakes Winner, the Grady team received the President’s Cup for Excellence in Speech and Debate, as well as the Ted Wolfe Award for qualifying the most entries for schools of 1,000-1,500 students.
Proving its unstoppable winning streak, the team competed in 11 different categories ranging from policy and Congressional debate, to extemporaneous and informative speaking.
“Grady High School is one of the few public school teams in Georgia that competes in all offered events, and competes at such a high level in each event that they qualified students to compete at the GFCA Varsity State Championships,” said Pamela Childress, GFCA director of communications. “Coaches Mario Herrera and Lisa Willoughby are a force to be reckoned with on both the state and national competition circuits. The Grady High School team is extremely collegial and welcoming to other schools and competitors. Their efforts have helped to build the speech and debate events around the state.”
Principal Timothy Guiney also praised Herrera, Willoughby and the students for their hard work and commitment.
“After attending Saturday’s event for a few short hours, I have a newfound respect for the amazing accomplishments of the team, and just what tremendous dedication it takes on the part of the students and debate coaches,” Guiney said. “Winning speech and debate championships at Grady may be something that staff, students and parents take for granted. However, nothing happens by chance, and it takes inconceivable work and determination on the parts of many every day, week, month and year. We should celebrate this, as if it is the first ever state championship, every year.”
In addition to the top awards, here are the other results…
Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Mark Winokur, Octofinalist; Alex Opsahl, Quarterfinalist; Will Taft, Quarterfinalist; Grady Bridges, Semi-Finalist; Harrison Wilco, CO-CHAMPION; Conor Downey, CO-CHAMPION
Public Forum Debate: Bailey Damiani and Todd Pengelly, Octofinalists
Dramatic Interpretation: Molly Looman, 4th Place
Program Oral Interpretation: Chloe Citron, 3rd Place; Ashley Carter, CHAMPION
Impromptu Speaking: Quarterfinalists: Kassidy Kelly, Denis Goldsman; Semifinalist: Quinn Preston; 4th Place- Gregory Fedorov, 2nd Place- Sam Lombardo
Extemporaneous Speaking: Semi-finalists: Micah Bowman, Robert Weimar; 6th Place- Kassidy Kelly; 4th Place- Sam Lombardo; 3rd Place, Denis Goldsman; CHAMPION- Gregory Fedorov; Robert Weimar named Novice Extemper of the Year