In a competition season that began last October and won’t end until mid-June, Orono High School’s Speech and Debate Team has solidified the school’s “small but mighty” status, claiming multiple first-place performance rankings within the state, and earning the right to represent Maine at national level competition.

Four members of the OHS team will take center stage in Ft. Lauderdale at the end of May: Alex Fergusson and Melissa St. Peter, each competing in the Dramatic Performance category; Emily Noyes, in the Oral Interpretation of Literature – Prose and Poetry categories; and Jessica Walker, in Oratorical Declamation. The four will be competing with the highest-ranked students from across the U.S. at the Grand National Tournament of the National Catholic Forensic League, an organization open to public and private schools nationwide. While OHS has consistently represented Maine at the NCFL tournament for many years, this is the largest delegation to be sent by the school in recent memory.

In addition to their impressive performance at the NCFL qualifying tournament on February 14, these and other OHS students made an outstanding showing at the Maine Forensic Association State Championship a week earlier. Melissa St. Peter earned First Place in Humorous Interpretation, with Alex Fergusson taking Second Place in that category. Jessica Walker won First Place in both Oratorical Declamation and Oral Interpretation of Literature – Prose. Emily Noyes took Second Place in Poetry. Capturing the Third Place award for Duo Interpretation were Alex Fergusson and Kent Everett. Ben Amar earned Third Place in Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Overall, the OHS team ranked third, only a few points behind the huge Skowhegan and Cape Elizabeth teams, and ahead of Bangor and Falmouth, among many other competing schools.

The OHS team members, coached by Victoria Gram, will soon learn whether they have qualified to represent Maine in a second national tournament, this one to be held in Dallas in June, sponsored by the National Speech and Debate Association (formerly National Forensic League). As with NCFL, Orono has a long tradition of serving as our state’s delegate to this prestigious competition. Fundraising efforts to support the team’s tournament travel will soon be announced.

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