CulCon 2016: Eloquence Under Pressure

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CulCon 2016: Eloquence Under Pressure

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ISB’s Forensics and Debate team competed in the 27th Annual IASAS Cultural Convention meet in ISKL this past weekend. Sixteen of our best speakers displayed their passion, eloquence and knowledge across 4 speaking disciplines and a Debate competition against their sister schools; in the end, Janita Luanpolcharoenchai spoke loudest and proudest as she brought home our first CC medal since 2011.

Forensics and Debate is divided into 4 separate speaking disciplines and a debate competition. In Oral Interpretation (OI), students perform an engaging reading of a passage of literature; in Original Oratory (OO), students write and perform a speech on an issue they are passionate about. Extemporaneous speakers respond to questions on political and global issues, while Impromptu speakers are given a prompt and 1 minute to come up with a 3-5 minute speech. In Debate, all IASAS school sent an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team who then competed in 5 head to head debates on current world and social issues.

Coach Stewart and Janita L. display their winning hardware.

Coach Stewart and Janita L. display their winning hardware.

In Debate, our ‘A’ team (Stefan Stanley, Peter Ohashi and Meghan Murphy) missed the final by one victory, though they did gain much experience. “It was disappointing,’ Stanley (12) declared, “but we were much better prepared than last year, and as we have a good number of returning students, we will be even better next year.” The ‘B’ team (Rodrigo Chavez, El-ly Namatinia and Saharsh Abbagnani) gained much needed experience and will look to push the program into the semi-finals and finals when we host CulCon 2017 at ISB next year.

In the Oral Interpretation event, Paola Lindo (The Stolen Party by Liliana Hecker), Janita L. (The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein) and Sammie March (Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris) presented impassioned readings of their own chosen literary passages. While none were able to make the final, they all received 1st and 2nd place rankings in the early rounds of the competition as they, too, gained valuable experience which will help them as they build toward next year.

The Impromptu team was led by team captain Toby Wertime whose humour and poise led him to the edge of the finals. Abby Fry and Nick Feldman also displayed their composure, eloquence, and, in Nick’s case “unique sense of humour” to the crowd in what is arguably the most challenging of the Forensics disciplines.

In Extemp, Paola Lindo and Toby Wertime performed well, but it was CC rookie Colin Vanelli who found the most success by making the final. Extemp coach Terri Hirst claimed it was “Colin’s confident speaking, and his ability to improve from round to round,” that earned him a spot in the elite 6. In the finals, Colin spoke succinctly and directly on “whether there can be a peaceful solution in Syria in 2016.” While he didn’t earn a medal, he performed admirably well and will be a force to reckon with in the coming years.

The Original Oratory team consisted of Austin Gallagher, Sammi Thomas and gold medal winner Janita Luanpolcharoenchai. Gallagher spoke about World Empires, and Sammi gave a very moving and sincere speech on the consequences of labeling. In the end, however, it was Janita who squeezed into Saturday’s finals, a fact that seemed to surprise her as much as anyone. She did, however, save her best speech for the Finals as she confidently and eloquently urged her audience to “talk to strangers” one last time. Coach Laura Stewart claimed the difference for Janita may have been that the Finals lacked a time limit, whereas, in the early rounds, speeches were limited to 7 minutes. “In the Final Round, Janita seemed relaxed and confident throughout her speech. She responded to her audience and used pauses and humour better than in the early rounds. I think not having to worry about the time limit allowed her the freedom to find the potential in her voice and her speech.” And boy did she ever!

Not since Emily Corning won a gold medal for ISB in 2011 has ISB won a discipline at Forensics and Debate. The whole team erupted with joy when Janita was announced as the OO Champ for 2016, a celebration that was amplified by the fact she is the first ISB student to win in the category of Original Oratory.

In the end, CulCon 2016 was a confidence-building trip for ISB this year. The team is abuzz with excitement and committed to reaching for the medal podium again next year when the Forensics and Debate tournament will be held in our own halls.

Conor D