CFHS Speech and Debate students shine at state competition


photo courtesy of Mrs. Corinne Lashley

On March 3, six CFHS students traveled to Austintown Fitch High School in Youngstown to compete at the State Speech and Debate Tournament.

Sophomore Claire Guddy performed in dramatic interpretation while both junior Sofia Clark and senior Ella Snyder competed in original oratory. Seniors Nathan and Ryan Hill performed in duo interpretation and placed fifth in the state while junior Kate Quinn performed in dramatic interpretation and placed first in the state.

Quinn based her winning performance on the 2017 film “I Tonya” that follows the true story of the infamous figure skater: Tonya Harding. She condensed the entire movie into a ten minute, fully memorized performance.

“I like the story. I think it’s very dramatic,” Quinn explained. “It’s something different. A lot of people do books and historic people. I just thought that it was a very different one especially because Tonya Harding is a very specific character and she’s not the basic sob story.”

Mrs. Corinne Lashley has coached Speech and Debate for eight years, but this year she worked as the head coach for the first time. With all her new responsibilities, she enjoyed watching Quinn’s success grow throughout the season.

“She’s been super consistent all year, and her ability to convey emotion to the judges is just above and beyond where so many other people are. Her script also has some funny parts which I think helps her stand out because drama is kind of a downer sometimes. So to have a few jokes and funnier parts in there helped her stand out too,” Mrs. Lashley shared.

Despite Quinn’s confidence in her performance, she still felt surprised when they called her name as the winner.

“Most of my competitors, especially in the final round which was just six of us, were seniors. So it was definitely like, ‘Okay, well, it’s their senior year. I’m not gonna win it this year.’ It was definitely a shock to me that I did win. I did put in a lot of work, but it was definitely a big wow moment,” Quinn said.

The Hills also condensed a movie for their duo interpretation performance at the state competition.

“We did a cutting of the movie “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” by Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island. So it’s very silly, very goofy, but that’s sort of what we do the best,” Ryan Hill described.

The movie parodies the rise and fall of the solo career of a former boyband member. At the height of his career, he hires a documentary crew to follow him around. But when his second solo album fails to garner attention, the documentary also captures the singer’s dramatic yet comedic fall from the limelight.

“It’s a fun way of being able to take a creative work by other people that I really admire and I think is really funny,” Nathan Hill shared. “And then being able to sort of make it in our own way but then also being able to present it to other people.”

The Hills have competed together as a duo since seventh grade. Last year, they won first place in duo interpretation at states. Now as the national competition approaches in June, they feel excited to compete for the first time at such a high level.

“Because we did really well at states, there’s not too much we really have to change and work on. But I think we’ll probably just prepare new ideas, rewatch the movie, and just try to make sure that we’re still having fun doing it,” Nathan Hill said.

Snyder also enjoyed performing at states as she nears the end of her high school career. She began Speech and Debate back in seventh grade and has stuck with it since. Over the summer, she typically brainstorms ideas for her speech and then starts to diligently draft her writing at the beginning of the school year.

“My speech was about how we need to change the way we listen to each other because we’ve stopped actually listening to each other. We’re mostly just hearing each other and then moving on with our day, so we need to go back to forming deeper connections,” Snyder shared.

She also appreciated the time and effort both Mrs. Lashley and Ms. Dinah Walter, the assistant coach, put in for every practice.

“[Mrs. Lashley] is great,” Snyder explained. “She gives wonderful feedback. She’s always so supportive. We had another coach, her name is Dinah Walter. She’s the one that I mostly work with because she was a former competitor for original oratory, so she helped with the editing and the gestures. But Mrs. Lashley really gave good content feedback.”

Sofia Clark also competes in original oratory and enjoyed competing at states with her teammates. 

“My speech was about being an optimist and how optimism has almost disappeared in importance from our social interactions and our interaction with ourselves. If you go on the news right now, almost 90% of the stories are negative about some mass shooting, or some protest, or something that just makes you not want to read the news. I kind of took inspiration from that,” Clark described.

In the original oratory category, the competitors usually include a personal element within their performance. In Clark’s speech, she focused on how her Mexican heritage led to her becoming an optimist.

“A lot of the time when native Spanish speakers speak, they always have aspirations. They use this future tense, they have stuff they’re looking forward to in the future. And growing up with my mom, who is a native Spanish speaker, there’s always this optimism. There’s always something to look forward to. There was also a phrase that my mom said a lot when I was growing up that made me think, ‘This is why I am how I am. This is why I am an optimist because she was an optimist.’ Her story and how she persevered and her move to the US, I kind of took inspiration from all those things and drew from my roots about being an optimist,” Clark shared.

Guddy also felt excited to compete in the state competition in just her sophomore year of high school. In her dramatic interpretation, she performed as Jules Vaughn from the hit HBO series “Euphoria”. In her performance, she acted out a dramatic and revealing therapy session the character undergoes. Although she previously performed in declamation (performance of a historic speech), throughout high school, her interest shifted towards dramatic interpretation.

“[Dramatic interpretation] allows for more room to act out a character. Declamation is just kind of giving a speech, where dramatic interpretation is interpreting a piece and acting which I like a lot more. So I definitely want to stick with that,” Guddy said.

As the only underclassman to compete at the state level on the team, she felt excited to represent her school so early in her Speech and Debate journey.

“Being there already was already an accomplishment in itself,” Guddy explained. “I was in the mindset of, ‘I already made it here, so no matter how I do I’m still proud of how I did.’ And all my teammates kept saying that too. ‘No matter what happens, we’re still so proud of you.’”