PHS_LogoOpening ceremonies held on Sunday marked the start of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) weeklong tournament being held virtually for the first time. Four Plymouth High School Speech and Debate Team members qualified earlier this year to compete at the national level.
Competing for PHS are Ellie Houin (junior) in Oratory ; Autumn (sophomore) and Quintin Barker (sophomore) in Duo; and Anne Blake (freshman) in Informative Speaking. To enter the virtual contest, all four had to videotape their performances that will be judged via the internet.
The tournament was originally slated to be held in New Mexico, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation. Knowing how important the competition is for students from all over the United States, officials almost immediately designed the online competition. Although not all of the students who qualified chose to compete, there are still 5,697 event entries from 1,329 high schools. NSDA had to recruit 2,986 judges willing to observe videotapes and complete ballots virtually.
Competitors in both Congressional Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking will perform via Zoom meetings where they will debate from their home computers.
PHS Speech and Debate Head Coach David McKenzie praised the NSDA for offering an alternative. He said, “It will certainly be different, but exciting.” He added, “When the state IHSFA (Indiana High School Forensic Association) cancelled in March, our students were disappointed. The NSDA holds their own tournament where students qualify for national competition. We are pleased that our competitors had this second opportunity.”