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LCHS shines in top-40 at National Speech Tournament

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Special to the LaRue County Herald News

The LaRue County High School Speech and Debate team spent the second week in June competing at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA, formerly NFL) National Speech Tournament to wrap up their 2013-14 speech season.

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Even though graduation had already occurred at LCHS, 2014 graduates Curtis Milby, Elijah Thomas, and Joey Gearon gave up a week of their summer before beginning college to represent LCHS at this final competition of their high school careers. Junior Brian Anderson also attended the national tournament.

Each of the young men distinguished themselves at the tournament and earned LCHS its first ever designation as a School of Honor in the NSDA.

A School of Honor designation means the students competing in the national tournament for the individual school have advanced far enough into the tournament and earned enough points to make that school one of the top-40 schools competing in the tournament.

Anderson advanced to semi-finals in both extemporaneous speaking and impromptu at the tournament. Milby and Thomas advanced to quarterfinals in duo interpretation, and Gearon advanced to octo-finals in impromptu and placed eighth in his chamber in student congress. These performances ensured that LCHS fell between 21st and 40th place at the National Tournament out of the more than 300 schools that were competing from all across the nation.

Individually the students placed very well in the tournament, though none of them advanced into finals. Milby and Thomas ended 16th overall in duo, while Anderson placed 14th in extemp and seventh in impromptu, and Gearon placed in the top-35, though no official numbers were released past quarter-finals of impromptu.

“I cannot tell you how pleased I am with these results,” said Katy Cecil, LCHS head speech coach. “It has long been a dream of mine to win a trophy like this at nationals. I was very excited to discover that we were in contention for one. This year we were designated a School of Honor, which places us in the top-40 – next time we want to be in the top-20 which will make us a School of Excellence.”

Milby and Thomas will continue their speech careers at Western Kentucky University in the fall, while Gearon will attend Transylvania University. Anderson will be returning to the LCHS Speech Team next year and there are high expectations that he will do even better at the 2015 Nationals.

“I always feel like I have done my very best and left my full effort in the room,” said Anderson. “I was pleased with how well I did at the national tournaments this year, but I would have been happier to have made it into the final rounds. I definitely plan to work as hard as possible to get there next year.”

Assistant Coach Bill Thompson who primarily works with the students who do extemp, impromptu, oratory and debate agreed.

“The thing about Brian is he always gives all of himself to this activity, and he views every tournament as a learning experience,” said Thompson. “He will take the successes and what he considers failures from these tournaments and work to improve on his performances next year. I have no doubts that he will be in final rounds all across the country all season long.”

Cecil said the speech team will travel to several large out-of-state tournaments next year to give Anderson several chances to hone his skills so that he can improve his chances at Nationals in 2015.

“Brian has so much potential, he works so hard, and he really is going into next year as one of the top-seeded extemporaneous speakers in the country,” she said. “We want to give him every chance to prove that and to remain at the top of his game so that he can bring LCHS our first National Extemp Championship.”

Cecil reports that Anderson will attend his first tournament of the 2014-15 season in early September at Wake Forest University. She added, with a laugh, “He doesn’t have much time off, especially with being at Governor’s Scholars for the rest of the summer after returning from Nationals, but he will be ready to get started back up again once we get back in school.”