On June 17, three members of the Lennox Speech and Debate high school team loaded up to head off to the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament in Birmingham, AL. Samantha Haan had qualified in dramatic interpretation back in February, and Max Bultena and Nathan Waltjer were selected to represent the district in World’s debate in April. At the Nationals tournament, they would be facing off with the best of the nation.
Samantha Haan ended the tournament in the top 2/3 of the nearly 300 entries. She performed her piece, I Dream of Lillian. The selection tells the story of a young woman that discovers she has cancer, and then becomes pregnant during the beginning of treatment. Forced with an impossible decision of either ending the pregnancy or ending treatment, she chooses to stop the treatments. While she is successful in giving birth to a beautiful girl, the pregnancy took too much out of her and she soon died. Back as a spirit, she shares her story as she watches over her husband and baby girl.
“I was so proud of the emotion and power Sam brought to her performance,” stated coach Mike Larson. “She took a very challenging selection and filled it with raw emotion that brought the audience on a roller coaster of ups and downs.” Sam had worked with Brooke Pellischi and Cindy Larson to bring the selection to life. Sam also competed in Prose interpretation with a cutting from This Is Where It Ends.
Max and Nathan joined Aine Crinon from Brookings as the World’s debate entry from the Northern South Dakota district. World’s debate is fairly new to the National tournament and it was the first time that Lennox participated in it. This style of debate more closely resembles parliamentary debate you would see across the ocean. The team had resolutions over alternative media, climate education and sanctions on Russia that they could prepare ahead of time. They also had to deal with three resolutions that were announced just one hour before the round started. The team went 3-3 and were in the top half of the 173 teams that were at the tournament. The field included US teams and some international teams like Tanzania, Morocco, and Hong Kong.
“I think the two boys gained a lot from the experience. I hope it gave them a new drive for next year. I was very proud of what they accomplished,” said Mike Larson. The team had a secret weapon to help them out. Former Lennox debater Madison Marquardt worked as a judge and a coach with the team. This past year, Madison traveled with her college team and participated in World’s debate in Europe. Her insight and experience was invaluable to focus on strategy and developing a style for a debate that was new to everyone.
Also competing at the middle school level was Xavier Larson. This was the first time someone from Lennox participated at the middle school level (they first started offering middle school nationals just a few years ago). Xavier competed in humorous interp and poetry. Xavier was in the top 2/3 of both events. His events took place in the middle of the high school tournament.
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