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AHS Speech Wins First State Championship

AHS Speech Wins First State Championship

AHS Speech & Debate Co-Coach Linda Langford wrote the following article. It was originally published in the Hendricks County Republican newspaper.

The Avon High School Speech Team made history on March 9. For the first time in school history, Avon is the 3A (big school division) Indiana Speech Team State Champion. The Indiana High School Speech Tournament, which had been held annually since 1951, took place this year at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers.

The state speech tournament consists of 13 different speech events. Thirty-eight of Avon’s 40 competitors who started in the sectional tournament two weeks earlier qualified for the state tournament. Despite those favorable numbers to start the state tournament, the key for state tournament success is to break through the elimination rounds of the full-day event. 

Avon did just that with 32 competitors advancing to the quarterfinals, 16 advancing to the semi-finals, and eight advancing to the finals. Avon captured the 3A championship with 112 total team points. Penn High School from Mishawaka finished in second place in the 3A division with 59 points. 

Additionally, three Avon competitors won state championships in their individual events. For the second year in a row, Liam Hoffman won the state title in International Extemporaneous. In his final round, Hoffman delivered a speech on the current role of NATO in international relations. Aissatou Ndiaye captured the state title in the Informative Speech category, delivering her originally written speech on the history and power of Black American female literature. Nancy Orogun won her state championship in Original Oratory, in which she spoke on the importance of not becoming desensitized to the daily news. Over the last three years, Avon students have captured six speech and debate individual state titles.

Other competitors who were top state finalists were the following:

  • Macy Lingle-4th in Informative Speaking
  • Salem Araya and Will Hicks- 4th in  Duo
  • Liam Hoffman-5th in Impromptu
  • Natasha Nair-5th in Original Oratory
  • AJ Sadullo and Sam Johnson-6 in Duo Interp

Coach Linda Langford was effusive in her praise for the team’s effort. “Most of our students began preparing for their events last September. They wrote and rewrote their speeches, again and again. They rehearsed and rehearsed and then rehearsed even more,” said Langford. She continued, “The state championship only happened because of the students and our coaches’ preparation and persistence. There are wonderful life lessons from this season that will go well beyond our students’ high school years.”

Liam Hoffman, a senior who also finished fourth in the State in Impromptu, reflected, “While the public speaking skills I've learned will be invaluable throughout my life, speech and debate has opened my eyes to experiences and cultures that differ from my own, making me a much more accepting person.”

Aissatou’s informative speech was inspired by the book and movie, The Color Purple. “Being a child of immigrant parents, I struggled with finding a place to fit in, having to conform with American culture and Senegalese culture, which is where my parents are from. Black female literature shows that I and others like me don't have to put ourselves into a box to flourish and that we can embrace both our ethnic and American cultures.”

Senior and team captain, Vanessa Navarro, said of her high school speech team experience, “The best part about competing on this team is the relationships I’ve made along the way. I’ve strengthened my connection with my teammates while creating new friendships with my competitors at each meet. Being in speech since my freshman year has taught me how to express myself in a confident manner. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had along the way.”

The Avon Speech and Debate team will next compete at the national high school tournament in Des Moines, Iowa from June 17-21.


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