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By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell hosts Drama, Debate and Forensics tournament

 

Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Shawn Howell delivers his piece at the Drama, Debate and Forensics tournament in Wrangell Saturday for the final round of the humorous interpretation category. Taking first place at the event, Howell's performance was based on a children's book by parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic entitled "When I Grow Up," about the multitudinous career paths available to an eight-year-old dreamer.

The high and middle school halls and commons at Wrangell were crawling Friday and Saturday as around 80 teens ran through lines, practiced their best voices and otherwise prepared themselves before performing at the regional drama, debate and forensics (DDF) meet.

"It ran a lot more smoothly than I was expecting," said Sydney Reed, Wrangell's new DDF coach. Though a longtime participant in the program, it was her first time as a host. "I was a lot more worried about it than I probably should have been."

She said she has heard good feedback from other coaches about the reception their teams received.

"I think overall it was a positive experience for those involved," she said.

The humanities tournament features competition in twelve different categories: pantomime, original oratory, humorous interpretation, duet acting, expository speaking, reader's theater, extemporaneous commentary, extemporaneous speaking, public forum debate, solo acting, duo interpretation and dramatic interpretation.

"It's a great growing experience for kids," said Barb Maier, DDF teacher at Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau.

Students from Ketchikan, Haines, Juneau and Sitka joined those in Wrangell for the third DDF tournament of the season out of five, which schools take turns hosting. To make it to the state finals, a student has to place in the top two for a category in at least two meets.

Two Wrangell students took first place in their events, sophomore Shawn Howell for humorous interpretation, and senior Ben Florschutz for original oratory and extemporaneous commentary.

Florschutz is said to often do well in the speaking categories and would have likely gone on to the finals for extemporaneous speaking as well if he had not gone over time. Reed said it's the first he's placed first in competition this season.

Howell received his first-ever top placement for a comic interpretation of Al Yankovic's children's book, "When I Grow Up." Howell went on to deliver his piece during Saturday evening's command performances to a full Nolan Center.

"That was a pretty exciting moment for him and the team," Reed said.

The volunteer judges and chaperones needed to put on the tournament involved around 80 members of the community, and parents of Wrangell's senior class students provided food and beverages for visiting teams.

"It was definitely a community effort," said Reed. "It helped the meet run a lot more smoothly than in previous years."

The team's next meet will be in Ketchikan, Dec. 12 and 13.

 

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