Special to the Reporter
The Mercer Island High School (MIHS) speech and debate team has posted outstanding results in its competitions this year.
MIHS sophomore Rachel Senn became the 2021 3A Dramatic Interpretation state champion on March 13. Senn began competing in this event, after two months preparation, in January, when she remotely attended four local tournaments.
“It is unprecedented for a first-year competitor to become state champion,” said new MIHS speech and debate coach Lisa Weber. “Rachel competed against finalists that were in their second, third and fourth year of dramatic interpretation. We are extremely proud of her.”
For Dramatic Interpretation, students create a 10-minute script from a book or a play. Senn created a script from the book, “If I Stay,” by Gayle Forman. A student may use material from any part of the book to create their piece. Then a student needs to begin to direct their movements as they memorize their piece. This year, the movements had to fit into a recording with a stationary camera. All movement must appear spontaneous, yet each movement is choreographed and to be meaningful. Each preliminary round was judged by two judges with a three-judge panel for the final.
In the first year of MIHS attending the 3A State Speech Tournament in at least 15 years, Harry Gollin attended the tournament in extemporaneous speech and Antonio Ji attended in humorous interpretation.
Being a first-year team, Weber commented that “all of the students that qualified for the state speech tournament this year exceeded my expectations.” Weber was previously the coach at Interlake High School in Bellevue for the past five years.
MIHS had two students, sophomore Garrett Lee and freshman Kathy Shao, qualify for the state debate tournament in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Students needed to attend multiple local tournaments and finish as finalists at each tournament to qualify.
Shao finished second in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, which is a 47-minute debate between the affirmative that supports that month’s resolution, and the negative that upholds the status quo as being better than the resolution. Students must debate affirmative three times and negative three times in every preliminary round, against new opponents every round and judged by a new judge. Shao also scored the highest speaker points in Lincoln-Douglas.