Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


By CVN Staff 

Rookies boost effort as DDF starts season


September 23, 2010

Rookie student speakers held their own when the Haines High School drama, debate, and forensics team traveled to Sitka last weekend for its first season meet.

 Due to conflicting school activities, sickness, and medical appointments, many of the squad’s most experienced members couldn’t make the trip, but the team posted excellent results, led by third-year competitor Sung Heywood in drama, and second-year debaters Brennon Whitermore and Royal Henderson.

 Whitermore and freshman Eli White, competing in his first tournament, won four of five debate rounds, narrowly missing the final debate match. White also qualified for finals in oration for a piece on organic farming.

Whitermore made finals in extemporaneous speaking, a challenging event requiring students to create and deliver a five-minute speech on a domestic or international political issue with only 30 minutes of preparation.

 Sophomore Henderson partnered with first-time debater Karissa Land, and the team of Cassie Galasso and Zeke Frank, also in their first meet, won several more rounds for Haines against experienced debaters from Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Mount Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Thunder Mountain.

 A Haines reader’s theater piece, excerpted from the movie "Airplane," (Heywood, Whitermore, Henderson and Galasso) was knocked to second place for running four seconds over the time limit of 12 minutes.

A new Haines pantomime, performed by Isobel Smith, Bradley Wilson, White, Land, Galasso, Heywood, and Frank, won its opening round of competition. It’s the story of six strangers and a live birth in an elevator.

Coach Gershon Cohen said the meet was the most remarkable performance by inexperienced speakers he’s seen in nine years of coaching. "Many kids fold up their tents in their first meet. There were well over 100 competitors, and the large schools only bring their top 15 or 20 kids. It can be extremely intimidating."  

He said he expects about 17 students to participate in the program this year. The next regional tournament will be hosted in Haines Oct. 22-24. Contact Cohen at 766-3005 to serve as judge for any of the 12 speaking, drama or debate events.

 No experience is necessary. A training session will be held Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria. Call Lisa Schwartz, 767-5612, to serve as a non-judge volunteer.