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


DDF team 2nd in small schools


The Haines Drama, Debate and Forensics team took second place overall in the small schools division at last weekend’s state competition in Anchorage, finishing behind Sitka.

About two dozen teams competed in the state competition, held at the East Anchorage High School and University of Alaska Anchorage Feb. 14-16. Nine students represented Haines.

Coach Gershon Cohen said on top of a strong overall performance, individual actors, debaters, and speakers from the Haines team also placed highly in several categories.

Senior Patrick Henderson was the number one speaker in the entire tournament, racking up more points than the other 65 participating students in public forum debate.

Henderson and brother Royal Henderson, also a senior, made it to the quarter-finals in public forum debate, where they argued whether the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States.  

“It’s pretty challenging, because there’s ways to argue it both ways that can be effective. And it comes down to who’s a better speaker and who’s done more research and who makes a more convincing argument,” Cohen said.

The Henderson brothers’ team came in fourth out of 33 two-person debate teams from some 20-odd schools, Cohen said.

In the drama category, sophomores Jennie Humphrey and Zayla Asquith-Heinz placed third in duet acting with a piece about two Siamese twins who are near death and preparing for a surgery that could save them.

“Physically, it was very challenging to pull off. They’re literally attached at the back throughout the whole piece,” Cohen said.

Asquith-Heinz, senior Tia Heywood and junior Polly Bryant made it to the finals in the Readers’ Theater category, but finished seventh out of seven teams with their 12-minute skit from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Cohen called the results “a heartbreak.”  

Near-misses for making finals included Royal Henderson in foreign extemporaneous speaking, Patrick Henderson in extemporaneous commentary, and Heywood in expository speaking. Humphrey and freshman Neil Little also placed high in duo interpretation.

Cohen said one of the best parts of the competition is the education of both the participants and the audience.

“That’s one of the beautiful things about the process. They learn a tremendous amount, and so does the audience. To listen to Royal Henderson give a speech on Catalonia, you would think he was born and raised there,” Cohen said.

Though the season is over, the team is currently planning fundraising events for next year, Cohen said.