CNMI students came back with outstanding results from National Speech and Debate in Florida

By Lori Lyn Lirio


THE CNMI teams who competed in the National Speech and Debate Association in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida returned with outstanding results, as two of them finished in Top 5 and three made it to the Top 15 of the junior and senior divisions.

In the Junior division, Western Pacific Region Director Harold Easton said Elaine Fernandez and Jonathan Wolf made it to the knock-out or breaking rounds.

Fernandez reached finals and finished fifth in Story Telling. Wolf, who did the Humorous Interpretation, also earned a fifth place in the nation. Vladimir Palma, who did Dramatic Interpretation, was in semifinals and finished 8th in the nation.

The other quarter finalists or in Top 25 were:

Jonathan and Lars Wolf – Duo Interpretation

Jonathan Wolf – Poetry Reading

Vladimir Palma landed in the Top 30 for his Prose Reading.

In the Senior division, Kate Ishida and Elizabeth Rose Jones made it to breaking rounds. Out of 420 students who competed in the Poetry Reading, Ishida finished 12th, placing her in the top 7 percent. Jones, who competed with 285 students in Expository Speech, made it to quarter finals and finished 15th..

The other team members who made it to breaking rounds:

Impromptu Speech – Shea Hartig (top 17 percent); Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga (top 40 percent) Prose Reading – Su Min Melody Woo (top 36 percent) Elizabeth Rose Jones (top 60 percent); Esther Park (top 60 percent); Poetry Reading -Shea Hartig (top 38 percent); Nina Valdisimo (top 60 percent); Jell Melchor (top 60 percent); Story Telling – Nina Valdisimo (top 40 percent); Jeremiah Fernandez (top 40 percent) Shea Hartig came close to breaking rounds with an excellent run in Lincold-Douglas Debate, Easton said.

“These teams did an exceptional job rising to higher levels in the competition with a huge number of competitors,” Easton stated.

In an email, brothers Jonathan and Lars Wolf thanked Easton for helping them prepare to the national competition.

“He ran our [regional] competition similar to the national competition. It had prepared me for rigorous rounds after rounds, and these rounds determined who moved on to the Top 24, then the semis and finals,” Lars said.

A first-time participant at the national NJSDA, Lars described the competition as tough.

“Our CNMI team was prepared and we all practiced and did our best.”

He added he will share his experience with his fellow students to help them better prepare when [local] competition starts in the next school year.

Jonathan Wolf had been competing in the NJSDA for three years. This would be his last participation in the NJSDA.

“As I say goodbye to middle school, I am grateful and humbled that I was always able to bring home trophies and plaques for our islands. It may be something small, but I am proud of it because I was able to bring happiness to our island and to those who have supported me,” he said.

“High school is a different level of difficulty and I pray that I will make it as far as I did in middle school. I thank Mr. Easton, PSS and the federal program for continuing this program which enhances our public speaking abilities,” he added.

Aside from the competition, the teams took advantage of educational and social opportunities, Easton said.

“As time allowed, both teams visited sites to learn about the ecological issues and Space Age Technology Florida is known for. They also made contact with colleges and universities that reach out to speech and debate students and met and socialized with students from around the nation and around the world,” he said.

The Junior Team members were: Patreisha Concillado (FMS), Elaine Fernandez (FMS), Dane Hodges (SIS), Cevina Huang (SIS), Juliet Innocencio (DDMS), Vivien Liu (HMS), Jill Mallari (MCS), Vladimir and Edgardo Palma (HMS), Christian Pamintuan (GMS), Oceana and Issa Teigita (DDMS), Lars Wolf (DDMS), and Jonathan Wolf (DDMS).

The Junior team was Coached by Criselda Aldan (MCS), Cary Bertoncini (SIS), Lorelisa Espiritu (GMS), Maria Mettao (FMS), Victoria Nishida (HMS), and Kristine Wolf (DDMS).

The Senior team members were Jeremiah and NeamiahFernandz (SSHS), Shea Hartig (SIS), Kate Ishida (MHS), Elizabeth Rose Jones (KHS), Jeff Melchor (MCS), Esther Park (MHS), Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga (GCA), Emma Timmons (MHS), Nina Valdisimo (KHS), Lanz Jabez Victoria (GCA), Kelvin Wolf (MHS), Su Min (Melody) Woo (GCA), and Joseph Zhang (MHS).


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Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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