Photo By: Keiko Ikeda

On November 17th, the SMIS Speech team wiped the floor with its rival international schools and reigned victorious at the KPASS Speech tournament. For the first time in over two years, the trophy came home to St. Mary’s. Under the adept coaching of Ms. Gordon, Mr. Stovall, Ms. Durrett, and Mr. Lamb, St. Mary’s brought home four ALL-STARS out of the nine categories—more than any other school. Moreover, not only were St. Mary’s students individually skillful, but enthusiastically supportive of each other as well. Each and every SMIS student would sprint to their teammate’s rooms in order to ensure everyone was at the top of their game.

This year saw the introduction of a whopping 12 new rookies, a record number for St. Mary’s Speech team. As such, many were up against a steep learning curve but eventually rose to the challenge. Joni Makinen sporadically came out of his shell and rocked the stage in the Original Persuasive category, earning himself a Gold. The Multiple Team consisting of Mazin Khan, Tanmay Kumar, Tatsuya Aoki, Brian Starr, and Mayank Bhandari developed extensively over the course of the season, eventually earning themselves positions in the ALL-STAR group. Coach Gordon summed their development up perfectly, “[They started with] sort of monotone voices and little expression… [they eventually] became so dynamic, funny and exciting.” Moreover, middle schooler Ishan Patel replaced Luke Pender who was away due to family matters. With just three days of preparation, Patel earned himself and St. Mary’s yet another Gold—securing five points for the team. Under the expert guidance of Mr. Stovall, Felipe Chertouh and Nikita Romanov decided to take on the challenge of Extemporaneous Speaking. Nikita exercised his unmatched research skills, and Felipe his profound understanding of global politics. Both Chertouh and Romanov learned a lot about public speaking, and are hoping to fulfill Tae Jun Seo’s (class of 2018) legacy—eventually turning their Silvers into ALL-STARs in the competition’s hardest category.

When St. Mary’s was called up to the stage and presented with their well-deserved trophy, Dramatic Interpretation ALL-STAR, and four-year team member Ji Seung Park proclaimed himself as captain. Ji Seung has been an integral part of the team for a while now. As such, no complaints arose when the famous ‘Mafoo Park’ stepped up. Shortly after being crowned victorious, Ji Seung said, “We were able to close this speech season very strongly because we were all part of this daunting journey. We helped and motivated each other throughout this season and collectively improved day by day. We are all very glad that the trophy has returned to its rightful owner: the Titans. We will strive to maintain the title and keep the positive spirit up.”

To wrap up another great year, all of the coaches gave their thoughts on the team’s performances and future. Mr. Stovall kicked off comically by saying, “[The speech team has] a future so bright, I have to wear shades.” Ms. Durrett exclaimed that “I am incredibly proud of the team, not only in terms of quality but how well they supported each other. St. Mary’s wasn’t a group of students that competed, they were a team.” When asked, Mr. Lamb strategically elaborated on his plans for the team’s improvement, “We seem to be doing things fairly right because we have had a lot of success. The best way to see immediate improvement would be to include more seniors. [However], I would really like to see our performers ready a week in advance, as opposed to the day before.” Ms. Gordon concluded with revolutionizing news, “I see [Speech] growing and expanding. We are looking at possibly attending a tournament outside of the Kanto plains.”

With all of this in mind, along with a fresh new team, St. Mary’s is now readying itself to dominate Speech in the coming years.

Article by Felipe Chertouh