Public Speaking Ranks Sixth in State

C. DeVries

“This year we are bigger and better than ever!” said Public Speaking teacher Kristen Plant.

The Miramonte Public Speaking program has a 30-year tradition of excellence.

The Mats rank in the top two percent of public speaking programs in the entire country.They also rank 59th out of the 2,700 National Forensic League schools nationwide. This year Miramonte has five classes and 130 students enrolled in the growing program.

The Mats compete in a league of Bay Area schools called The Golden Speech Association. In league they won first place as a school in Student Congress, second place in Individual Events, and second place in Public Forum Debate.

This year’s co-presidents include seniors Pheobe Schmidt, Kate-Marie Engberg, and Anirudh Sapru.

“This year isn’t really different from other years, except that a new group of seniors has stepped up to be leaders,” said Schmidt.

Twenty-eight Miramonte students competed in the California High School Speech Association’s State Championship Tournament (CHSSA) April 15-19 in Bakersfield, CA. Overall, the Mats placed sixth at the tournament as 13 students broke into semi-finals. The Mats doubled the number of competitors earning trophies from last year.

In Congress sophomore Alec Bahramipour placed 13th, junior Anastasia Kaiser placed tenth, junior Conor Bean placed eighth, Sapru placed fifth, and senior Brendan Bashin-Sullivan placed second.
Sophomore Cecily Schmidt placed 18th in Thematic Interpretation. Senior Myra Orgain placed 18th in Dramatic Interpretation while junior Erin Anderson placed 15th.

Senior Anthony Galarza placed  18th in Original Advocacy and junior Philip Chang placed seventh in International Extemporaneous. Engberg placed third in Original Prose and Poetry, while freshman Will Rhodes and junior Robert Robinson placed sixth and tenth respectively.

“Winning trophies is great, but my priority is that students attain the valuable life skill of being able to speak in public. Whether it is giving a wedding toast, a college interview, or a class project, public speaking will help you,” said Plant.

This year seven Miramonte students, including two freshmen, will compete at the National Forensic League Championships in Kansas City, Missouri, June 12-19.

The list of students includes: junior Erin Anderson for Dramatic Interpretation, Bashin-Sullivan for Congress: Senate, Bean for International Extemporaneous, freshman  Jason Lammert for Public Forum Debate, freshman Nick Olivier for Public Forum Debate, Sapru for Congress: House, and junior Emily Tribble for National Extemporaneous.

“I love working with these students. It is the dream job. The students are motivating and they learn from each other. The younger students really look up to and learn from the older students,” said Plant.
“The best part about public speaking is the team. We all spend a lot of time together at tournaments and it’s easy to become close because we all have this one thing in common; just like a sports team,” said Schmidt.

Despite the fact that the Miramonte Public Speaking Program will be cut entirely if Measure A, the Parcel Tax, does not pass, Plant remains optimistic.

“There is the sad irony that as our program is growing and improving, there is a chance that our program would be eliminated completely,” said Plant. “But I am confident that our great community will once again come through.”