The islands’ Speech and Debate Association recently hosted its first tournaments for its elementary, junior high, and high school divisions for the new school year. The monthly competition drew student orators and debaters from the island’s public and private schools.
According to tournament official Angela Wheat, the Oct. 31 junior high and high school competition featured students from 12 middle schools and eight high schools.
“National Junior Speech and Debate Association [for junior high school students] has grown here in the CNMI so that it is now just as big or even bigger than NSDA [the high school division],” she said. “Students, coaches, and teachers are seeing the advantages of this involvement in both personal growth and academic growth.”
Participants compete in a variety of categories ranging from poetry reading and impromptu speaking, to dramatic interpretation and original oratory.
Marianas High School veteran orator Yuuki Nishida, who took part in the competition, told Saipan Tribune, “It feels great to be competing…again. My plan this year is to win for duo [category] again in the regional competition and hopefully succeed at the national competition.”
Mt. Carmel School senior Cathryn Javier represented the islands in commentary last year. “It is great to be back. It is always exciting to compete and also see familiar faces from the most recent national team,” she said.
“It was great to be able to get to perform again,” Elizabeth Rose Jones, who represents Kagman High School, said. “I always look forward to the NSDA meets. I really hope that I will be able to make the national team again!”
Thousands of students from around the globe compete at the national level of the Speech and Debate Association at the end of every school year. Students here compete in monthly meets to qualify for the regional event, where top orators and debaters earn the chance to compete at the national level.
This year’s national competition is expected to take place in Salt Lake City, Utah.