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Potsdam wins speech and debate competition; Chichester named master speaker

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MALONE - The advent of the New Year 2014 has resurrected the area speech and debate schedule.

The local teams descended upon Franklin Academy in MaloneSaturday to renew the struggle for supremacy. The schools which participated in this competition included Franklin Academy, Parishville-Hopkinton, Madrid-Waddington and Potsdam.

As the season begins winding down heading toward the New York State and National Forensics tournaments, each student has set eyes on the prize, a chance to go to compete in either Oneonta for states and/or Chicago to vie for a place in the national tournament.

On the Modified side of things, declamation was the one event available to the seventh and eighth graders. This event involves the selection of a speech originally presented by someone else, usually a politician, a celebrity from the entertainment or athletic world, or a philosopher. Then, these youngsters read the speech as they believe the original author would have offered it to emphasize the message. Parishville-Hopkinton’s Kaitlyn Wells grabbed the silver medal for her presentations. Madrid-Waddington’s Emily Bracy continued to demonstrate her winning ways. Emily took home the gold.

Turning to the high school side of the competition, Dramatic Performance is a memorized presentation of a piece of literature usually involving some sort of conversation or monologue. Potsdam’s contingent rode roughshod over the competition. Among the six finalists the Sandstoners placed five students.

The newest recruit for the Potsdam team, Corinne O’Brien, presented a selection from the play, “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.” It is a difficult piece because it involves a homeless lady suffering with severe mental illness who is afflicted with hallucinations. The presentation demands a great deal of voice control and pensive processing as the piece is related. Corinne placed sixth. Franklin Academy’s Josh Oshiro, also a novice to the speech and debate program this year, continued his impressive delivery of literary presentations. He certainly brings a wow factor to each event. Josh grabbed fifth.

Freshman Lucas Bird, Potsdam, continues to improve in his delivery of the closing argument of the defense attorney from the movie script “A Time to Kill.” Certainly a moving piece when you hear it. Lucas earned fourth place. Two other Potsdam students, Gwyneth Heuser and Anna DeRosa, tied for second place. The two presentations were completely opposite in that Ms. Heuser’s piece, “We Can Get That for You Wholesale,” has a mixture of light comedy and intense drama, while Ms. DeRosa’s offering, “The Stronger,” is a dramatic monologue. These ladies shared the silver medal.

The top prize in this event went to Potsdam’s Brian Timmerman, whose presentation was entitled “Resurrection.” It is a wonderful piece involving a physical therapy student at a major university who is reflecting on the metamorphosis of her thinking about the cadaver with whom she works in her anatomy lab. Initially, the body is just a body, but as she continues to work with it the attitude transforms into a realization that the body represented a real person.

Original oratory is always interesting. It is intriguing to see what topics are selected by the individual students around which each creates a speech which is supposed to be educational, inspirational, or persuasive. Topics range from such lighthearted ones as “Bacon, the food that ought to be the U.S.’s national food,” “Kissing” and “Are we presently engaged in our second civil war ?”

The judges must try to focus on the delivery, the cohesiveness of the message and the substance of the message. A real challenge. This day Michael Hobbs, in his first year on the Potsdam team, tried his hand at this oratorical event. For his efforts he was awarded sixth place. Ivan Jukic, also a Potsdam senior, placed fifth. Potsdam’s final member of the contingent in this event, Dominic Frascatore, converted at least one judge to his way of thinking about bacon. For his persuasive argument he earned fourth place. Madrid-Wadington’s James Miller expounded on the civil war and the present day politics grabbing third place. Second place went to Josh Oshiro, Franklin Academy. Madrid-Waddington’s Alyssa Ryan continued her winning ways with a near perfect day . She took home the gold.

Duo-Dramatic Performance is a playful event but demands great fluidity and synchrony. The two partners must practice their lines and their actions to make the whole presentation believable. Alyssa Ryan and Kathryn Travis continue to impress the judges and swept away the rest of the competition with their performance. They earned the first place medal. Potsdam’s Anna DeRosa and Gwyneth Heuser teamed up to eke out second place. Madison Crow and Taylor Shanty, Malone, got third. Gwen Deuel and Elijah Adams, novices to the team and this event, tried their hand at presenting “Requiem for a Dream.” They placed fourth.

The remaining three events, JV Extemporaneous oratory, Varsity oratory, and Lincoln-Douglas debate demonstrated why Potsdam intends to keep its championship status. In JV Extemp the top three contenders included Dominic Frascatore, Daniel Chichester and Lucas Bird. As it turned out the order of medalists was just the same, with Lucas Bird getting the gold.

In the Varsity Extemp, Potsdam’s Michael Hobbs grabbed sixth place, Gwen Deuel fifth place, Ivan Jukic fourth place, Elijah Adams third place and the bronze medal. Second place went to Brian Timmerman and Noah Chichester topped the competition and took home the gold.

Lincoln-Douglas debate also highlighted one of the Potsdam team’s strengths. Blakeslee Anderson, Parishville-Hopkinton, new to the debate scene, earned fourth place. Potsdam’s Mackenzie Neaton placed third in his first attempt at debate this year. The final rankings depended on the final round between two brothers, Noah and Daniel Chichester. Each debater held his own in the final round, but when the dust settled, the veteran earned the top prize. Noah, the senior, was very complimentary to his younger brother, Daniel, and felt he had held his own.

The determination of Master Speaker was in the balance until the final bell of the LD debate round between the Chichester brothers. Noah Chichester earning perfect scores in both Varsity Extemp and Lincoln-Douglas debate grabbed the top honor. Thirty out of 30 points is not bad. Right behind him in second spot was Madrid-Waddington’s Alyssa Ryan with 29 points. Potsdam’s Brian Timmerman earned 28. Potsdam’s Daniel Chichester and Ivan Jukic both earned 25 and team mate, Lucas Bird received 24 for the day.

The final outcome of the tournament showed Potsdam besting the other three teams. Madrid placed second, Franklin Academy third and Parishville fourth. Next outing is on Jan. 25 at Parishville-Hopkinton.

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