Morristown High speech / debate team takes on the world during pandemic
From Morris School District:
Morristown High School Speech and Debate Team
Excels during the virtual season
Morristown High School Speech and Debate team recently concluded a historic 2020-21 season. Due to the virtual format of all competitions and tournaments, the team was able to compete with the best and brightest in the state, country and even internationally.
The topics were as diverse as climate change, US-China relations, Space Force, adolescent mental health, and immigration policy.
Among the team’s many accomplishments, this was the first year that MHS sent qualifying teams to the following three prestigious competitions in the same year:
1. NJ State Championship, NJ Speech & Debate League (NJSDL)
2. NJ District Tournament for National Championship, National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA)
3. Annual Harvard National Forensic Pathology Tournament, Cambridge, MA, which included not only competitors from across the United States, but also, thanks to the virtual format, from China, India, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
MHS students progressed to the finals (awards ceremony) at five of the six NJSDL tournaments that took place from November 2020 to March 2021: Princeton Invitational, Montville Invitational, Freehold Invitational, Summit Classic and Randolph Classic.
Highlights and major accomplishments of the year include:
Mary and Elizabeth Gillen: honors finalists, public forum debate, Randolph Classic
Jessica Jabbour: semi-finalist, New Jersey State Championship (NJSDL); finalist, Summit Classic
Matthew McDonald: 1st place winner, Freehold Invitational; 3rd place winner, Princeton Invitational; finalist (OctoFinals) at the annual Harvard National Forensic Tournament
Chris Ruiz: 4th place winner, Summit Classic; finalist, Freehold Invitational
Teammates Caitlin Tuttle, Chris Ruiz, Matthew McDonald, Jessica Jabbour, Mary Gillen, and Elizabeth gillen all qualified and competed in the NJSDL State Championship after achieving “top 5” performances in NJSDL events throughout the year.
Teammates Caitlin tuttle and Matthew mcdonald qualified and competed in the NJ District Tournament for the National Finals, as well as the annual Harvard National Forensic Tournament.
Each member of the MHS team, including ninth grade students Jacquie Mobus and Kayleigh mcdonnell, received a diploma of merit, honor or excellence from the National Speech and Debate Association.
Team captain Talia Wagener, a senior, advised the team throughout this exceptional year under the guidance of an MHS Latin teacher and a Speech and Debate coach Lyn berman.
Berman said she was “continually impressed throughout the year with how this team stepped up, wrote and memorized their material, and gave up their Saturdays to compete.” It’s a great group of students and I can’t wait to see what they do next. There was so much work done by the whole team – it was wonderful to be a part of it.
MHS parent Anne McDonald, also a team advisor, believes that student success has come “to make the most of every opportunity in this virtual year”.
“The best part of the story,” she added, “is the incredible discipline, talent and intellectual curiosity the children have shown all year.”