By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — Some of the best and the brightest in state speech and debate competition will take center stage at Delaware Academy on April 5 and 6.
The New York State Forensics League Championship will be held at Delhi this year. It will crown the state champion in one of 16 speech and debate categories including: dramatic, humorous and oral interpretation, original oratory and declamation. Students in grades 9-12 had to qualify to reach this level, said site coordinator and Delaware Academy forensics team advisor Jennifer Stanton. She is also the school’s 7th grade English teacher. This is one of three leagues her students compete in.
She has been a team coach for eight years and this is the first NYS Forensics League tournaments in the area, she said. As a regional director, she suggested the school, last year, in a meeting with her peers, held in Mineola.
Delaware has nine of its regularly participating 15 students earning a spot to compete, and a total of about 900 student coming from more than 70 schools. There are almost 240 adult judges involved as well. In this area Hancock Central School is also participating.
League Coordinator Brother John McGrory said in a media release, “We are thrilled to have Delaware Academy host our State Championship Tournament.” Its central location makes the tournament accessible to all schools in the state. Moreover, “we are so happy to have such cooperation from the district and such energetic leadership from Ms. Jennifer Stanton. We look forward to a great tournament.”
Across the state, from late September to March, students compete on weekends in their regions to earn a qualification for this tournament. Each region holds a meet to allow students who haven’t otherwise qualified to earn a spot.
State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, plans on attending for at least the Sunday awards ceremony, and hopefully some of the competition. It’s exciting to have a school in his district hosting a statewide event, he said.
“It’s an honor for the region and Delaware Academy in particular,” said Lopez.
Delaware Academy Superintendent Jason Thomson said these types of activities help the school maintain its reputation as a quality academic institution. To debate against one’s peers requires a strong background of knowledge in a subject. It requires the attention to critical thinking skills that are at the heart of the state’s curriculum, he said.
Volunteers from the community will be helping with the competition, including residents, board of education members, administrators and local businesses. A lot of people deserve credit for getting this far, but Stanton deserves the lion’s share, he said.
“She has worked hard not only to bring the tournament here, but also to develop the school’s program,” he said.
The tournament should not only benefit the students, but the area economy as well, as more than a thousand people come to the area for lodgings, meals and gas, he said.
“We’re excited to showcase what the community has to offer.”