The Hotchkiss Speech and Debate Team attended the first public speaking competition of the season at Stoneleigh-Burnham School on Sunday, Oct. 1, and came away with a first-place finish there for the first time in over 10 years. Students from 13 schools competed in three events: prepared speeches, impromptu, and interpretive reading.
Co-captain Meilan Antonucci ’24 won the overall top speaker award, earning an invitation to the World Championships for the second straight year. Hotchkiss speakers have been the top speakers at all three league events this season, clinching both of the available Worlds invitations (Isaiah Stephens ’25 secured the league’s first invitation to Worlds last month). Co-captain Ben Who ’24 finished in second place overall, half a point behind.
Hotchkiss speakers excelled in all events, with each of the four speakers winning individual awards in addition to the team title. In persuasive speaking, Ben was the top speaker and Vanessa Guerra ’25 tied for second, and Peter Berlizov ’24 was half a point behind in fourth. In impromptu speaking, Meilan was the top speaker and Peter was second.
This tournament, run jointly by Stoneleigh-Burnham and Northfield Mount Hermon School, helped the students prepare for the International Independent School Public Speaking Championship in Vancouver later in the month, where they will compete in the same events. Bearcats prepared for this challenging event by writing speeches, researching topics, and practicing their delivery.
Up next for the team is the St. Sebastian’s School Novice Tournament, where a group for new debaters will have a chance to compete, some for the first time. The Hotchkiss home tournament is scheduled for Oct. 29, and the team is looking forward to welcoming debaters from around New England to Lakeville.