February 3, 2011 |

High school DDF squad preps for state competition

Ten members of Haines High School’s Drama, Debate and Forensics team traveled to Juneau last weekend for their final tournament before this month’s state competition.

"We had another great tournament, and the team is polishing pieces now and looking very, very strong for having a good state tournament in two weeks," said Haines coach Gershon Cohen. "It’s a huge showing of coming in very high placements in many, many pieces, from such a small team."

Senior Sung Heywood and junior Elena Horner, fresh off a first-place duet acting finish in Ketchikan, took top honors again in Juneau at a meet that drew teams from Juneau-Douglas, Ketchikan, Mount Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Thunder Mountain and Wrangell.

Heywood and Horner were the top team in every round, including the finals.

"That piece is just getting stronger by the day," Cohen said. "They had what is known in the DDF world as a ‘picket fence.’ They had all ones – one in every round and one in the finals."

Heywood also was part of the second-place readers theater team with junior Esther Bower and freshmen Zeke Frank and Isobel Smith. Their "Action News" performance is a spoof of an evening news program. They were selected to give an encore, command performance for their peers at the end of the event.

Bower was sixth out of 36 participants in extemporaneous communication, and sophomore Tia Heywood placed sixth out of 42 students in solo acting.

Sung Heywood and senior Chris Bowman earned a fifth-place nod in duo interpretation for "Slaughterhouse-Five," which Cohen noted was "a piece they have only just very recently learned."

The two Haines debate teams combined for a record of nine wins and three losses.

Bowman and sophomore Royal Henderson won five of their six match-ups.

"There were four 5-1 teams, so they had as good a record as anybody in the meet, and they lost out on the tiebreaker formula for speaker points and just by a hair didn’t get into the final debate," Cohen said. "Chris Bowman was the No. 1 overall speaker for the whole tournament."

Bower and sophomore Brennon Whitermore posted a 4-2 record.

Cohen credited the leadership of seniors Bowman and Sung Heywood, who were sent off with chocolate roses to mark their last regional meet.

"It was quite fitting, I think, that Chris Bowman was the No. 1 debater in the tournament and finaled with his duo, and Sung Heywood finaled in all three of his events, and that’s really remarkable," Cohen said. "… Both of them, both on the acting side and on the debate side, will be missed, but they’ve done a great job in setting examples for other kids that will be carried on after they’re gone."

DDF team members next will head to the Feb. 17-19 state tournament in Anchorage. They scheduled a dessert auction this week to help finance the trip.