After nearly four days of back-to-back competition the CNMI National Forensic League awarded 16 students with gold medals and a trip to Overland Park, Kansas, in June, where the students will represent the CNMI in their categories and compete with over 5,000 other students from around the globe.
The competition was spread out during the week in order for coordinators to have ample time to tabulate score sheets and for students to compete in the several categories they participated in. The students were named members of the national team at the regional contest held Saturday at Marianas High School.
The tandem of Marianas High School’s Yukki Nishida and Jayrold Mercene will represent the islands in duo interpretation. Marianas Baptist Academy’s Kanata Omori will compete in the U.S extemporaneous speech category. Mount Carmel School’s Thomas Manglona II will compete in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate; MHS’ Masrur Alam, in the foreign extemporaneous speech; Saipan Southern High School’s Katrina Punzlan, original oratory; SSHS’ Trianna Del Rosario, Chamorro dramatic interpretation; MBA’s Alina Ishikawa, dramatic interpretation, MCS’ Soon Hyung Kwon, humorous interpretation; SSHS’ Devina Atalig, Chamorro poetry; GCA’s Mina Ito, expository speech; MHS’ Ann Norcio, commentary; Saipan International School’s Minori Yoshida, prose; GCA’s Yujin Lee, poetry; GCA’s Dong Ha Lee, storytelling; and MHS’ Scarlet Chen, impromptu.
MHS sophomore Scarlet Chen said the experience was both intense and exciting. This will be Chen’s first time to participate in the high school national speech and debate tilt. “Everyone was so good and I feel this is going to help me a lot in the future,” she said.
Dong Ha Lee said he is excited to see “what the national level has in store” for the team. “It is definitely a blessing and NFL has changed my life.”
Soon Kwon, a senior at MCS, told Saipan Tribune that “the pressure was on once I made it to the final round.” This will be his last year traveling to represent the CNMI. “Everyone was so good. I felt all the pressure from other competitors and the judges in my last performance for my high school career,” he said.
The CNMI sends delegates to the speech and debate tilt annually and has consistently brought home several awards and recognitions.
According to NFL board chair Harold Easton, last week’s regionals had a total of 60 competitors. He said this year’s national team is “representative of the teams we have had in the past.”
Due to financial constraints in the Public School System, the students and their parents may need to fundraise for a fraction of their total trip expenses. The CNMI NFL organization in the past has sent students under similar conditions. This year, according to school officials, the trip is not categorically guaranteed.
However Easton told the students that one thing is for sure: “This will be one of the best experiences of your life.”