Jemez Mountain Home School takes top trophies in state tourney

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By Ben Hanlon

The Jemez Mountain Home School Speech and Debate Team received many of the state’s top awards at the 2014 Annual New Mexico State Speech and Debate Tournament earlier this month.
The team’s 10 students competed in a total of 29 events over the three-day tournament that took place in Santa Fe from March 6 through 8.
The team won first place in Limited Entry Sweepstakes and third place in Overall Speech Sweepstakes. Twenty-five high school teams and 350 students from across the state competed in this year’s state tournament, which was the largest in New Mexico history.
The state champion in Oral Interpretation is Tom Hanlon, a high school junior, with the piece titled “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” by Bill Bryson. This collection of Bryson’s memoirs recounts humorous stories of his youth growing up in the 1950s baby boomer era.
The state champion in Original Oratory is Annika Davenport, eighth grade, with her original piece titled “A Friendly Bottle of Extortion,” which presents the drawbacks of bottled water consumption.
Davenport and senior Connor Schultz are the third place state recipients for their Duo Interpretation. Michael Booton, sophomore, was third place in Impromptu Speaking.
In addition to placing, several of the team members advanced to the final and semifinal rounds of competition. These members include freshman Robert Naffziger in Humorous Interpretation; senior Matthew Davenport in Impromptu Speaking in the finals; the team of Robert Naffziger and junior Richard Naffziger in Duo Interpretation; and Schultz and Hanlon for Humorous Interpretation in the semifinals.
Other team competitors are Andre’ Green, junior: Public Forum debate; Caleb Schultz, seventh grade: Oral Interpretation; and Elsa Gram, eighth grade: Oral Interpretation.
The team’s accomplishments also resulted in all-state rankings. Among the top 150 students in New Mexico, Matthew Davenport is ranked No. 1; Connor Schultz, No. 3; Richard Naffziger, No. 14; Green, No. 15; Hanlon, No. 27; Robert Naffziger, No. 77 and Booton, No. 123.
Additionally, the JMHS team’s coach, Carolyn Connor, is the New Mexico State Speech and Debate Association’s 2014 Speech Coach of the Year.
The New Mexico Speech and Debate Association is a professional association of educators and coaches representing public, private and charter schools statewide that are actively engaged in forensics education and high-school-level speech and debate competition in the state of New Mexico.
Each year the NMSDA membership votes for Speech Coach of the Year. Connor was recognized by her peers for her accomplishments as an exemplary coach who exhibits the following qualities: dedication to speech education in New Mexico, helpfulness to other coaches and students, involvement in speech or debate activities, sportsmanship and leading a successful program.
Zuni High School put forth Connor’s 2014 nomination, specifically citing her coaching success and dedication to mentoring new coaches and teams in the state.
Connor has coached forensics for almost two decades, focusing for the past 11 years on competitive speech and debate at the high school level as Director of Forensics for the Jemez Mountain Home School Speech and Debate Team.
Many of her students have won national recognition, including four National Speech and Debate Association All-Americans (the top 150 students of the association’s membership of approximately 120,000 active students) and five Academic All-American Award distinctions.
The JMHS team will compete in the New Mexico State District National Qualifier Tournament next month.
Winners will compete at the National Forensic League National Tournament in Overland Park, Kan. in June.