POTSDAM - Students from Potsdam Central High Schools speech and debate team will be heading to Albany this weekend to compete in the New York State Forensic League Championship Tournament.
This is a really good team, Coach Daniel J. Jenack said. This is probably the most active group Ive had in my 14 years in charge.
Mr. Jenack said this years team includes 13 members who come to practice each week prepared and ready to work.
These people come prepared. I never have to worry about the quality or seriousness of the piece, he said.
The students will leave for Albany Friday afternoon, with the two-day competition kicking off Saturday morning and wrapping up with an awards ceremony Sunday afternoon.
For President Shannon L. Smith, a junior, this weekend will mark her third trip to the state tournament. Ms. Smith said shell be competing in the Student Congress this year.
At the state level its a little more competitive than were used too, she said, adding shes looking forward to the challenge.
I like it because you get to see a lot of different people from across the state, and its a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of speech and debate and the categories themselves, she said.
Its like what you would expect from a regular congress, but with students, she said, explaining how the student congress works. Students create their own bills, and they formulate a speech to present the bill.
Other student congress members, including Ms. Smith, then choose a side to argue, speaking in favor of or in opposition to the proposed legislation.
Vice President Cassie L. McCormick, a fellow junior, is also making her third trip in three years.
Ms. McCormick said she enjoys the challenge of competing in the state tournament.
Its a lot of fun, mainly because when you compete against the people from your district you know what their strengths and weaknesses are. So when you compete against different people its more of a challenge, she said.
This year Ms. McCormick said shell be competing in the oral interpretation category.
You pick a prose piece and a poetry piece, she said. You get to read it ,and youre supposed to really get into character when you present the piece.
Alexis E. Tischler is another veteran on the team and a senior, will be making her fourth trip to the states in six years.
While it would be nice to win, Ms. Tischler said thats not what its all about.
When you go to states, its not about competing to win. Up to that point were big fish in a small pond, but down there its a different level of competition. So its not really about winning, its about building relationships with people from our district and meeting people from other districts.
Ms. Tischler said she will be competing in the dramatic performance category, a category that actually requires its participants to memorize their performance.
You take a dramatic piece and perform it from the characters perspective, she said.
While the team does include many veterans who have competed at the state level before, not everyone has state championship experience under their belt.
Alex Wang, a sophomore with four years of speech and debate experience, including one in California, will be making his first trip to the state championship.
There is no state level competition until you reach ninth grade, he said, adding he participated in speech and debate as a freshman in California last year but did not reach the state tournament.
Mr. Wang said hes using this year as a learning experience.
Ill be looking forward to learning from other people. Ill probably pick some stuff up from the other competitors, he said.
But as with any high school activity, Mr. Wang also said its important to have a good time.
Well be going with our friends on this team and from other districts. Im looking forward to having a good time with them.