MHS speech and debate praised for milestone

MHS speech and debate praised for milestone
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

With an exalted job title — executive director of the National Speech & Debate Association — one might expect communication from J. Scott Wunn to be on the formal side. But when he sent a note recently congratulating Mexico High School on a milestone 10th appearance at the national tournament, the tone was enthusiastic.

“It is a tremendous thing to attend the National Tournament once and a truly outstanding achievement to attend 10 times,” Wunn wrote. “Few schools can claim such an accomplishment.”

In its 27 years, the MHS speech, debate and theatre program has become accustomed to high praise.

The 2020-21 school year indeed marked the Bulldogs’ 10th appearance at nationals, represented by Samantha Joiner, Shadora Foy and Grant Norfleet. The program has also qualified students for state competition for 27 consecutive years.

And in 2016, the theatre department was selected to perform at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland — an act so popular they were invited to return once COVID-19 is in the past.

MHS instructor Sara Given is in charge of the program and points out that no other Missouri State High School Activities Association team at the school has sent students to state for some many years in a row.

She adds that speech, debate and theatre students have also added 35 first- or second-place awards at the district level in that span.

“The program has flourished,” Given said.

For Norfleet this year marked the graduated senior’s third appearance at the national level. Riley Given holds the record, taking part in four national competitions. Kylie Yeast appeared in two.

Norfleet, Joiner and Foy’s names were added to a long list of Bulldog state qualifiers that include Given and Yeast, as well as Jordan Orshceln, Shaye Boone, Weston Hitchcock, Brooke Ransom, Andrew Kristofferson and Morghan Rowe.

Both the 2020 and 2021 National Tournaments were forced to adopt a virtual format.

“This past year has been unique,” said Sarah Given, the MHS instructor in charge of the program. “All tournaments this year have been either recorded or hybrid.”

Being limited to the space captured by a camera lens clearly did not hamper the Bulldogs.

“Your program’s dedication to speech and debate activities is evident,” Wunn noted of the 10 year milestone. “We hope for many more years of you and your school’s involvement in our community.”

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