Haines High School students notched impressive wins at the state championship debate, drama and forensics meet held last weekend at Anchorage’s East High School, taking third place overall among small schools and second in forensics after Sitka.

Members of the team who competed include freshman Maddox Rogers, sophomores Willa Stuart, Colin Aldassy, and Selby Long and senior Sal Chappell.

The team’s small size made its performance even more impressive, said coach Hannah Bochart. Every member of the team made the final round of competition in at least one event. “That’s a pretty huge feat to pull off, but they did it. They came home with a bunch of medals, awards and plaques and I think they’re feeling pretty happy about it,” Bochart said.

Hometown fans will get a chance to see the team in person, including winning performances, at a local showcase later this month. Haines also won the state meet’s sportsmanship award.

Aldassy topped dozens of other speakers to take first place statewide in humorous interpretation with his performance of “I Won A Giant, Inflatable Banana at the State Fair…and Now What?” The performance qualified him for national competition.

Aldassy said body language and using a piece with a good story line gave him the edge over other competitors. “I surprised myself,” he said this week.

Senior Chapell finished sixth of 54 competitors in total speaker points, leading the Haines squad. She competed in readers’ theater, extemporaneous commentary and public forum debate with partner Willa Stuart, a sophomore. Together, the pair won three of their five debate rounds.

Chapell attributed the team’s sportsmanship award to volunteering during the competition and bonds she and teammates made with competitors from other schools. “We’re really a great team. We like hanging out with other teams… We know each other very well.”

In three years of DDF, Chapell progressed from memorized acting to finding her niche in debate and extemporaneous commentary. “I’m super proud of the skills (DDF) brought me but I’m also so happy for the friends I made at other schools outside of sports.”

Sophomore Selby Long won second place in extemporary speaking, a category of competition where speakers are provided a topic and are allotted 20 minutes to write a speech about it.

Freshman Rogers placed third in the category of informative speech for his talk about “Ken Allen,” an orangutan at the San Diego Zoo that became famous for escaping his enclosure. “He wrote and performed an amazing speech. He did extremely well,” said coach Bochart.

All five Haines students teamed up to capture third place statewide in reader’s theater, a group performance of the story “Double Trouble on the Prairie,” a melodrama written by Sean Abley.

Senior Chapell said the young team has a bright future. “I’m really excited to see what they do next year. They’re all underclassmen and they have a great base to build on.” She also gave credit to coach Bochart. “Hannah is super supportive of any event we want to try. She really loves to see us succeed. We’re super luck to have her as coach.”