Speech and Debate: 43 in a Row!


Taylor Andrews

The Speech and Debate Team celebrate in Morgantown after their monumental 43rd consecutive State Title. Members of the team are holding their trophies and the overall sweepstake award.

Taylor Andrews, Managing Editor

The Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Team competed at their state tournament on March tenth and eleventh, winning for their forty-third year in a row.


Mr. Bill Cornforth has been a speech coach for 43 years, witnessing the entirety of the Speech and Debate Team’s streak, and thus has worked closely with generations of kids on the team.


“I believe there are a lot of great skills to be learned being on the speech and debate team that deal not only with speaking skills but also interpersonal communication,” Cornforth said.


“I think it’s exciting to see how people grow in a year from their first tournament to the end of their career here.”



Mrs. Kayla Nelson has been a debate coach for five years, although she was an assistant speech and debate coach for seven prior years.

When asked about what she enjoys about working with the team, she said, “Their personalities and the ways they interact and collaborate with each other. I love watching them grow from nervous novices into determined and driven debaters.”


Ms. Jennifer Mathieu is another speech coach that works closely with the team.


Mathieu has coached for three years, although she also coached in Virginia for three years.

When asked about what she enjoys about working with the team, she said, “It’s really rewarding to see all of the student’s hard work and dedication and it feels like a family.”


Mrs. Isabella Droginske has been an assistant speech and debate coach for five years, as well as the Intro to Speech and Theater teacher.


Mrs. Droginske has the unique opportunity to see potential team members in their freshmen year.


“I’m incredibly lucky that I get to see people in their beginning stages from people knowing they want to be on the team to growing into state champions.” Droginske said. “Even seeing some kids start on the fringe and growing into state champions. I’m truly lucky. I’m the only coach that gets to see the team from the beginning to the end.”


When asked about working with speech and debate, she said, “I am biased, but I think these are the best kids. The most hard-working kids. There’s nowhere else I can debate a kid on philosophy and hear incredible poetry in the same room. These are just the most passionate kids in the school and it’s so cool to work with them.”


The speech and debate team has three captains this year, Logan Frazier, Laykin Milton, and Mariana Alkhouri.


Frazier competed in Humorous Interpretation, Oral Interpretation, and Impromptu, and won first place in Oral Interpretation and Impromptu as well as third place in Humorous Interpretation. Humorous Interpretation and Oral Interpretation are events where competitors do speeches composed of prose, poetry, or other media, and Impromptu gives the competitor seven minutes to make and give their speech.


When asked about why this speech season is important to them, Frazier answered, “I feel very responsible being a captain and no class wants to be the class that breaks the streak… this is my last shot ever.”

Milton competed in Humorous Interpretation, Oral Interpretation, and Duo Interpretation. She placed second in Duo Interpretation and fourth in Humorous Interpretation.


When asked about how she’s grown this season, Milton answered, “I definitely think with my leadership. Having to deal with different issues as a captain has definitely helped me with leadership qualities.”

Alkhouri competed in Congressional Debate and Lincoln Douglas Debate. Alkhouri won first place for Lincoln Douglas Debate.


When asked about how this states is important to her, she answered, “It’s my very last one as a debater. Having done it all three years I’ve been on the team, and in both virtual and in-person tournaments, I believe I’ve had a varied, unique experience with states than most other competitors. This year is the culmination, and I’m looking forward to my magnum opus performance as a debater.”


But although Frazier, Milton, and Alkhouri are graduating this year, all three of them are still leaving behind their influence on the new team next year, and thus have advice for the underclassmen they’ve worked with all year.


“First I want to tell them how grateful I am for everything they’ve put into this.” Frazier said. “You guys have got to buckle down and put everything into it. There’s gonna be some changes around here and I don’t want that to scare anyone away. The most important thing is the friendships you made along the way.”


“My biggest advice is to not let speech dictate your life and do other stuff you want.” Milton said. “Speech is important but don’t let it stress you out. I want them to have fun like me and the other seniors had.”


“Fight for yourselves and your team.” Alkhouri said. “There are inevitably going to be obstacles, so don’t be the obstacle to yourself. I urge them to prove their positions on the team, advocate for themselves and their teammates, and to always preserve the legacy respectfully… Stay hungry, keep fighting.”


Junior Alice Joseph is a member of the debate team who competed in Lincoln Douglas Debate and was a semifinalist.


“This year I get to compete in the event I actually do and this is my second year doing it.” Joseph said when asked about states. “I’m glad to be on the team two years in a row.”


Sophomore Kenzie Kret competed Public Forum debate, and this is her first state tournament. Kret and her partner Rylin Russel won first place for Public Forum debate.


When asked about why states is important to her, she answered, “To be able to use everything I’ve learned and see how much I’ve improved. To represent my team.”


Junior Chloe Humway competed in Original Oratory and Duo Interpretation. Humway placed first in Original Oratory and second in Duo Interpretation. Original Oratory is a self-written speech that usually focuses on a problem and solutions to solve it.


Talking about her growth this season, Humway said, “I have made a lot more friends and duo has made me a lot closer with Laykin Milton and helped me learn to depend on others.”


Sophomore Carter Bauer competed in Programmed Oral Interpretation and Impromptu. She placed first in Programmed Oral Interpretation and sixth in Impromptu. Programmed Oral Interpretation is an interp event that uses multiple forms of media centered around the same theme.

“When I started the season I knew It would be a lot of work but I never knew it would be go go go,” Bauer said. “I’ve grown in my time management and getting my priorities straight.”


Grace O’Neil is one of three seniors this year that has the unique opportunity to compete in both a speech and debate event for states this year. They competed in Congressional Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. They placed fourth in Extemporaneous Speaking and sixth in Congressional Debate.


“I think I’ve grown this season by not putting as much pressure on myself and realizing I can prepare as much as possible for my events but sometimes things happen and that’s okay,” O’Neil said.


The Speech and Debate team has had a season of hard work and well-earned victories, paving their way to their forty-third win.