Success for Forest Hills School’s First Speech Squad

Success for Forest Hills School’s First Speech Squad

MELS students celebrate speech team success. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School

MELS students celebrate speech team success. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School

It was another celebration of firsts for the new Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills.

The school’s speech team competed its way to the state championships in Delhi, N.Y. over the weekend after a successful performance at the Brooklyn Queens Catholic Forensic League’s regional qualifier in February. Coach and 10th grade English teacher Adam King said the crew was thrilled to see five of its own high schoolers qualify for the statewide competition.

“To compete on this level is the biggest testament to the kids,” King said. “I was thrilled to see the students meeting their goals.”

King and co-coach Ari Feldman were able to secure third place in the entire league in the group’s first year of existence. The coach started the forensics team in September, more commonly referred to as the speech and debate team, because he knew the talent was there, he said. What started as a means to provide more students with after-school activities quickly blossomed into much more.

“I always knew these kinds of tournaments were difficult to join because of their competitive nature,” he said. “I could not even explain how happy everyone was to see kids qualifying.”

Those who qualified for the state championships included Ursula Rodriguez, Seth Douglas, Ashley Barcia, Kira Wilson and Inaki Herrera. They were the school’s first-ever competitors in a varsity event, the school said. Navneet Kaur and Jeremiah Manoppo were also named second alternates if any of the five could not make it to compete.

None of the students made it beyond the tournament’s preliminary rounds, but it was hardly a disappointment, the coach said. The speech team was only established in September and went toe-to-toe with other schools throughout the state, which already had well-established speech programs with decades of experience.

“It’s basically just an honor for us to qualify for this state competition at such an early stage of the program,” King said. “It is no easy task to get there in the first place. We have a team of about 15 and five qualified, which is great.”

Herrera, along with Tara Manning, also received nominations to the national championships in Chicago, which the school has started raising money for.  A special event was scheduled for May 8 at 5:45 p.m. inside the school, where the speech team will perform pieces for teachers and parents of the community to help fund the Chicago trip.

“With give students headed to states and two to nationals, the time for fund-raising is now,” the school’s site said. “Students are diligently practicing and beginning to plan MELS Speaks, an opportunity for the school community to listen to the students’ pieces on May 8.”

Faculty at the Forest Hills school, which only started in 2010, just recently celebrated another first after wrapping up its first musical production, “Little Shop of Horrors.”

By Phil Corso


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