By ERIC X. VICCARO
Ste. Genevieve High School speech and debate team members have excelled in recent competitions.
“I am immensely proud of the kids who have excelled this year,” said Ste. Genevieve coach Christia Gugel, who also serves the district as a language arts instructor. “Part of the reason kids get involved in this activity is the chance to shine.”
Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, speech and debate meets have turned to totally virtual settings.
“This year has been a challenge for them to sense they are ‘shining,’” Gugel added. “Regardless, they continue to push on, and have demonstrated incredible determination. It makes me proud to be their coach.”
At the Missouri East Speech Association meet on Monday, Nov. 16, seniors Addie Taylor and Katelyn Fuller won both of their rounds — finishing unbeaten in the tournament.
At the Jackson November “Turkey Trot” on Nov. 19-20, senior Vela Lightle was tops in prose reading, second in original oration and fifth in extemporaneous speech.
Senior Shaun Uzzell recorded a pair of strong finishes, including fifth place in humor and sixth in storytelling.
At the Ladue Novice Invitational on Nov. 20-21, sophomore Jamison Kemper advanced to the semifinal rounds in both humor and storytelling.
Flynn Tucker advanced to the semifinal rounds in both storytelling and prose reading.
During the MESA Fall Tournament, four students qualified for the final round.
Lightle was Ste. Genevieve’s best all-around performer, qualifying for the finals in original oratory, international extemporaneous speaking, poetry reading and prose reading.
Drew Newman advanced to the finals in domestic extemporaneous speaking, Emma Soave for original oratory and Uzzell in humor and storytelling.
In the Bolivar Novice Invitational, Soave qualified for the semifinal round in original oratory.
At the Jackson “Frosty Frolic” Invitational, Lightle placed fourth in original oratory, Uzzell fourth in storytelling and Holly D’Amico fifth in prose reading.
Everyone who competed had to submit a video of his or her performance, with debates via online conference calls — adapting to a completely new way to conduct a speech and debate meet.
French instructor Bre Uzzell serves as Ste. Genevieve’s assistant coach.