POTSDAM - It was homecoming weekend in Potsdam, Oct. 18 - 20. There were lots of visitors in town, not only for the high school football games but also for the college activities.
Part of that celebration was the Potsdam League Tournament involving area speech and debate teams. The hosting Potsdam team welcomed students from five other schools including Madrid-Waddington, Parishville-Hopkinton, Brushton-Moira, Colton-Pierrepont and Franklin Academy (Malone). It has become clearer that each of the visiting teams have the same goal —- to defeat the Potsdam Sandstoners, the defending League champions.
As usual the Potsdam tournament featured many different events for the high school students plus a limited number of categories for the seventh and eighth graders. In addition, this day was the initial session of the Student Congress for the 2013-2014 school year.
On the Modified side of things, there was a full slate of competitors for both prose interpretation and poetry interpretation. In each of these the student selects a piece of poetry or literature, and then presents a reading of the selections.
Such things as pace, volume, diction, emotional components, and voice in general are the issues for the judges to address. And the students take their interpretations very seriously.
In Poetry Interpretation Colton-Pierrepont, Parishville-Hopkinton and Brushton-Moira had students vying for the top prize. It was an exciting contest in this event with only one point separating the winner from the runner-up. When the dust settled from the three mandatory rounds, C-Ps Ben McKinley placed sixth. Haylee Richards from Brushton-Moira eked out the fifth place prize by one point. Fourth place went to Claire Rousell, C-P. Veteran competitor and determined speaker Kaitlyn Wells finished in the medal awards. Kaitlyn placed third and got the bronze medal. First and second place was separated, as was said earlier, by one point. Colton-Pierreponts Grace Rousell earned the top prize this day besting her nearest competitor, Alexis, Follett Brushton-Moira. Alexis took home the silver medal.
In Prose Interpretation many of the same competitors from the Poetry round appeared to vie for the top spot. Brushton-Moiras Haylee Richards grabbed the points to earn sixth place. She was followed in fifth place by C-Ps Cole Richards. Kaitlyn Wells, Parishville-Hopkinton, placed fourth. Madeline Rousell, C-P, garnered the points to place in the medals. She got third. Second place went to newcomer Emily Bracy, Madrid-Waddington. The judges were quite convinced about the first place winner. She outscored her opponents this day by a wide margin. The gold medal went to Brushton-Moiras Alexis Follett.
In the high school events, they started with Oratorical Declamation, a category in which the student selects a speech originally offered in public by another person, memorizes the speech and offers their rendition of the message. Usually these selections are comedic or political or inspirational. And the students take their presentations seriously.
The final standings in Declamation showed Colton-Pierreponts Theodora Moore in fifth place, Franklin Academys Cassie Florio in fourth place, and C-Ps Katie Johnson in third. The struggle between first and second lasted the whole day.
First one student had the lead, then after the next round, the opponent had the lead. When the dust settled from the final round, Framklin Academys Josh Oshiro grabbed the gold medal, besting his determined competitor from Potsdam, Anna DeRosa, who took home the second place award.
Moving on to the other event reserved for ninth and 10th graders, JV Oral interpretation took center stage. Eighteen students competed in this event during which each student would be required to present a piece of literature in one round and then switch to poetry in the next. This alternating pattern would continue throughout the tournament.
The final six positions were shared by the students from three different schools. Potsdams MJ Weirich, a newcomer to this event, placed sixth. He was followed by Colton-Pierreponts Claire Jenkins. Franklin Academys Josh Oshiro and Sandstoner Dan Chichester tied for the rhird place. Anna DeRosa fell just short of the top prize, but took home another second place medal. The gold medalist this day in this event was Franklin Academys Cassie Florio.
For their efforts Ms. Florio, Ms. DeRosa, Mr. Oshiro, and Mr. Chichester all earned half state bids. Anna DeRosa had already won a half bid so she is now, invited to the New York State Tournament to be held in Oneonta in April 2014.
On the varsity side of Oral Interpretation ,many of the juniors and seniors came out to offer their renditions of various prose and poetry. Veteran Alyssa Ryan, Madrid-Waddington, returned to competition in a big way. Her performances earned her the top spot of the day. Brian Timmerman, Potsdam, grabbed the runner-up spot. C-Ps Alyssa Santa Agueda took third. Fourth went to P-Hs Shawntell Courtney. Colton-Pierreponts Andrew Jenkins took fifth and Potsdams Ivan Jukic rounded out the top six finishers.
Duo-dramatic interpretation is always competitive and entertaining. Potsdams Brian Timmerman and Noah Chichester bested the group with a selection entitled, The Thing. Who knew?
In second place was the team from Colton-Pierrepont comprised of Alyssa Santa Agueda and Andrew Jenkins. Malones partners, Christian Benware and Durant, took third only one point behind the second place finishers. Colton-Pierreponts Claire Jenkins and Katie Johnson placed fifth, and the local team, brand new on the circuit, MJ Weirich and Michael Hobbs, grabbed the sixth place. Their rendition of Whos On First ? is quite entertaining but it still pales to the original by Abbott and Costello.
Moving to the debate arena the students continued to debate the resolution, Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Five brave teams faced off in a round robin affair. There were some good debates; others showed promise but will require some review of the basics. It is amazing to hear how the students have assimilated the news data from around the world and try to apply it in their debate presentations.
Each debate ought to encourage a team of debaters to review their own case to see how to improve it for the next competition, especially if the topic of discussion is to be the same as the previous one.
This day the blue ribbon went to the new team from Madrid-Waddington, Cassidy Scott and Lawrence. They had a perfect day with no blemishes on their record. Following them was the team from Potsdam, Ivan Jukic and Dan Chichester. These lads lost only once to the eventual winners. Third place was earned by Franklin Academys number one team of Christian Benware and Adelynn Murphy. Potsdams second team, Lucas Byrd and Dominic Frascatore, did an admirable job for their first combined effort in the debate arena. Malones team of Donovan Connelly and Jacob Sprague, finished in fifth having endured their baptism with fire today.
The Master Speaker for the day, that student who amassed the greatest number of points from their two event presentations, was Potsdams Brian Timmerman. Colton-Pierreponts Alyssa Santa-Agueda racked up the points to place second, a mere three points behind the eventual winner.
The tournament scores reflected that Potsdam would not be thwarted this day. They outlasted, barely, the two nearest competitors, Franklin Academy by 11 points, and Colton-Pierrepont by 29 points.