By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — The area will be sending students to a national speech and debate contest, following a weekend Iroquois District National Forensic League competition at Oneonta High School.
OHS Speech and Debate Club co-coach Kathy Hardison said students from 19 schools participated. In this area, besides Oneonta, that included Laurens, Walton, Delhi, Unatego, Hancock, Worcester and Franklin Central schools. Schools from Vermont and Pennsylvania were also involved. About 70 students participated overall.
Following events that took place Friday and Saturday, top students in each category qualified to compete in the national tournament June 16 to 21 in Birmingham, Ala., she said.
From Oneonta, senior Charlotte McKane won first place in national extemporaneous speech. She will compete in the category in the upcoming event.
Other categories include Lincoln-Douglas Debate, that involves arguing either side of an issue, and public forum that involved two people arguing a position. Students also qualified in categories that included humorous interpretation, dramatic interpretation, duo interpretation and original oratory.
McKane said she has been involved since her freshman year and qualified last year in a different category. This is the first year she can go because, as a senior, it won’t conflict with Regents exams.
The category involved three rounds. McKane said she was given a topic in each and had 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech on an issue. The topics included whether gun control makes people safer and whether the United States invests enough in scientific research.
She was looking forward to the upcoming event. This is the largest debate competition in the world, she said. “There should be some challenging opponents and good speeches,” she said.
It’s a way for her to develop public speaking skills and interact with students from other schools in area, McKane said. She will be doing fundraising, she said, and is working on getting support from local businesses.
Joel Gopurathingal, a sophomore at Delaware Academy Central School, qualified to go by winning won in international extemporaneous. The format was similar to McKane’s. One of his topics involved relations between India and the United States.
“It was definitely an exciting experience,” he said. “I never thought I would win.”
He said it was a goal he had for his senior year.
He enjoys the competition because “It helps me prepare for the future,” Gopurathingal said. “It’s a life skill that will come in handy.”
He was trying his best to attend, he said, despite a conflict with his Regents exams.
Also winning from Delaware Academy was Rachel Vail for dramatic interpretation. The names of other winners were not available Tuesday.
Unatego team coach Jennifer Mileski said the school sent two students to the Oneonta competition for the experience. A larger team will participate in the National Catholic Forensic League tournament this weekend at Delaware Academy. It is similar to the NFL meet, but it does conflict with Regents week, she said.