Six hundred Ohio students head to Sylvania for tournament
Rotary-sponsored Sylvania Invitational
Approximately six hundred teens from across Ohio will arrive in Sylvania for a spirited debate next weekend.
The annual Sylvania Rotary Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament is January 10 - 11, 2020.
The tournament has been held in Sylvania for over thirty years according to Sylvania coach Brandi Shepard. "I competed in it when I was in high school in the 90's, and it was huge back then!" Shepard recalls.
"You would be amazed how many people know Sylvania because of speech and debate," Shepard says. "Ask someone in Canton or Youngstown and they likely will say "Sylvania? Isn't that where the gigantic speech and debate tournament is held?""
2019 State Finalists
Oumeima Djema, 2nd
both in declamation
Shepard is enthusiastic about the experience offered to Sylvania students by the speech and debate club.
"Speech and debate helps prepare students for their futures. Try to find a job where you don't have to interact with people. It helps teach confidence, organization, critical thinking, research, and obviously effective communication," Shepard says. "But it also builds friendships. Yes, the students are competing against each other, but when you see the same people every Saturday you become friends. They go to prom together and help support each other. When I'm worried about what the future holds, I go to a Saturday tournament and see all these high school students, wearing suits and talking about topics that are sometimes over my head or topics I know I wasn't worried about at 16. And I know we're going to be okay if these kids are our future "
Famous past speech and debate competitors include Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Warren, Janet Reno, and Brad Pitt.
Shepard says the event usually has about one thousand competitors, plus coaches, judges, and friends and family. This year the field is down a bit, to around six hundred competitors, due to another large tournament being held at the same time this year.
There will still be a large crowd and many buses in town over the coming weekend, especially as participants and observers will be shuttling back and forth between the two high schools.
Debate rounds (Public Forum, Lincoln Douglas and Congressional debate) will be held at Northview and speech/individual events (dramatic, humorous and duo interpretation; original oratory, informative speaking, international and domestic extemp, declamation and program oral interpretation) will be held at Southview. There are 5 rounds of preliminary competition and a semi- and final rounds in speech. Debate has 6 preliminary rounds and octa, quarter, semi and final rounds.
The Sylvania team will feed all the participants during the competition. Shepard says that several area restaurants are helping support Sylvania's Speech and Debate teams by donating or cutting costs on food. Parents of competitors also make donations.
The Rotary Club of Sylvania is sponsoring the tournament again this year, Shepard believes this is their fourth year. Rotary provides the funds to cover the cost of trophies in full.
"It is a huge financial burden" Shepard says of the trophy expenditures. "We appreciate them so much!"
The Sylvania Rotary Invitational is part of the Ohio Speech and Debate Association, which is headed by Executive Director Paul Moffitt. Moffitt is a former Sylvania Speech and Debate coach, and is currently a teacher at Southview.
The public is welcome to attend, sign-in tables are located at entrances for observers.
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