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Speech and Debate Teams Compete in State Championship By Chloe Patel

Walpole High School’s Speech and Debate team competed in the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League State Championship on March 30 and April 6. Junior Abigail Malone placed first in her category—Play Reading. In the history of the program, she is Walpole’s third state champion.

“Winning states feels unreal. I came into the season with a few goals in mind, but this achievement was way beyond those goals,” Malone said. “Winning states was never even on my radar.”

Malone poses with her first place plaque (Photo/Emily Murray)

Individually, junior Maggie Wall placed third in Informative Reading, senior Ava Straccia placed fourth in Play Reading, and freshman novice Sameera Manjrekar placed sixth in Poetry Reading. The “Legally Blonde” multiple, composed of seniors Allison Millette and Annika Olson, junior Jodi Mathew, sophomore Mahoney Cyr, and freshman Colin Wilbur came in fifth place. Another multiple, “Mean Girls,” comprised of Straccia, juniors Miles Ahmed, Sydney Nossal, Aislyn O’Connell and Emily Tomsetti, and sophomore Gina Destito came in sixth place.

“We brought so many kids to states, so that in itself is an accomplishment,” Straccia said. “We also placed 10th, so that was very exciting.”

The three participants in the Debate Tournament—Reshma Abraham, Lindsay Navick and Annika Ruda—each competed in 5 debates. Navick finished 3-2 and Abraham and Ruda both finished 2-3. Having qualified for nationals, Abraham will compete at the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) grand national tournament in May.

The Debate team smiles at the Debate state championship (Photo/Tammie Ruda)

“The most thrilling part of the day for me was getting our assignments for round three—I was put against a Needham debater who is known for being good and an excellent speaker, so I was excited to face him again,” Ruda said. “I had probably won my first two rounds because the third round was power-paired, meaning your opponent would have a similar record to you.”

While this competition marks the end to this year, and an end to many seniors’ high school careers in Speech and Debate, the seniors are grateful for their time during speech and debate.

“I met my best friends through speech and debate,” Straccia said. “It also helped my craft my skills as a performer and public speaker. The list goes on and on of how speech and debate has changed so much about my high school experience.”

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