Lawrence High School qualifies 9 for national forensics tournament

photo by: Contributed Photo

Lawrence High School sophomores Anthony Racy and Joel Rose are two of the school's nine qualifiers for the National Catholic Forensic League's Grand National Tournament, to be held May 24-25, 2019 in Milwaukee. The two are pictured March 5, 2019 after qualifying in congressional debate; freshman Helen Viloria, not pictured, also qualified in that event.

Lawrence High School’s forensics team came away from its first showing at an area tournament with nine students qualifying for national events this spring.

LHS hasn’t participated in National Catholic Forensic League events before, coach Jeff Plinsky said, because its national tournaments have generally been held on the coasts. But this year’s, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in Milwaukee, is driveable and more affordable, he said.

The Lions had some luck at the recent Kansas City, Kan., diocese Spring Qualifier, Plinsky said. Eighteen schools entered, according to an event website, including some Blue Valley, Olathe and Shawnee Mission district schools and a magnet school in Kansas City, Kan.

Among the national qualifiers were LHS sophomores Joel Rose and Anthony Racy and freshman Helen Viloria, all in the congressional debate event, held Tuesday, March 5.

“We’re excited about the fact that those three qualifiers were all underclassmen, so we’re looking forward to a lot of years of success in the future,” Plinsky said.

On Friday, senior Haylee Rose and junior Amelia Vasquez qualified in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

All the rest of the speaking and acting events were held Saturday, Plinsky said.

Seniors Jared Coté and Lex Moulton qualified in Duo Interpretation, a two-person acting event, for a cutting from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Plinsky said. Coté also qualified in Solo Acting, but students must choose just one event for nationals.

“Those two have largely put that piece together on their own, and it’s fantastic,” Plinsky said. “As coaches, we’ve sort of helped fine-tune it, but really they’ve done the bulk of the work on their own. They’re very talented.”

Junior Jasper Mumford qualified in Oral Interpretation of Literature, which involves reading prose and poetry.

Jenna Riggins, a freshman, qualified in Oral Declamation. That event is only open to sophomores and freshmen, Plinsky said. In that event, students take a speech that’s been given by someone else and give their own interpretation of it. Riggins chose Hillary Clinton’s speech, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” which Clinton delivered Sept. 5, 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women.

Also this past weekend was the Firebird Invitational, held at Southwest Middle School. Three Lawrence High students qualified for the Kansas state tournament at that event: Junior Jack Malin, in Poetry Interpretation and in Prose Interpretation; Sami Turner, a junior, in Informative Speaking; and Violet Belt, a senior, in Program of Oral Interpretation.

The Kansas 6A state championship will be held May 4 at Olathe East High School. There are still plenty of chances for more students to qualify, Plinsky said.

Also, LHS and Free State High School are both members of the National Speech & Debate Association, Plinsky said. The East Kansas District Qualifier for that organization’s national tournament will be the weekend of April 12-13 at Olathe Northwest High School, and nationals will be June 18-21 in Dallas.

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