A strong showing at last weekend’s Drama, Debate, and Forensics meet at Haines High School has coach Gershon Cohen setting his sights on a state championship.
Haines students placed highly across the board in the regional meet, which hosted seven Southeast schools and about 100 competitors in 12 events.
Senior Patrick Henderson dominated several categories, taking first place in extemporaneous commentary and fourth place in oration. Henderson was named best overall speaker in debate, a title he was also awarded three weeks ago at a Sitka meet.
Classmate Tia Heywood tied for first place in expository speaking, a category with 25 entrants. Heywood spoke about the challenges of creating a grand unified theory of the universe and guided her audience through developments in the field of physics, from the theory of relativity to quantum mechanics.
Other standout performances included sophomores Zayla Asquith-Heinz and Jennie Humphrey taking third place in duet acting, senior Royal Henderson winning third place in extemporaneous speaking, and freshman Neil Little coming in third in humorous interpretation.
A reader’s theater piece based on Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” featured Asquith-Heinz, Heywood, and senior Brennon Whitermore. It took second place.
Both Haines debate teams went 4-2. The meet’s debate category was corporate personhood, or whether corporations have the same rights as natural persons under the U.S. Constitution.
“I think this year we could actually have a tremendous performance at state. I think we could take first place,” Cohen said of his team.
Cohen said the team had a slow start this year because several students had conflicts with other activities and couldn’t attend meets.
Only eight students attended the Oct. 26-27 Sitka meet and the team still managed to walk away with a solid number of victories.
Out of 40 participants, Patrick Henderson took first place in public forum debate speaker points, while Whitermore placed fifth in the same category. Humphrey and Asquith-Heinz took third place in duet acting. Little and fellow freshman Dylan Grimes placed second in pantomime, an impressive showing after just two weeks on the squad.
The team’s last regional tournament is Jan. 18-19 in Ketchikan.The state meet will be held in Anchorage Feb. 14-16.