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WE ARE NATIONAL QUALIFIERS:
Lafayette student qualifies for national tournament
- Mar 17, 2019
Dr. Michael Shane Heard and Lafayette High School senior Aleigha Hammett pose at Lafayette High School. The latter is the first Lafayette student to qualify for the National Speech and Debate Tournament.
Over the course of her interpretive event, Lafayette senior Aleigha Hammett uses the booklet containing her speech as multiple props, including a cellphone and a gun.
Hammett is the first Lafayette High School student ever to qualify for the National Speech and Debate tournament, which will be held in Dallas in June, and her individual presentation isn’t a topic to be taken lightly: the 1999 Columbine shootings.
It’s a topic that Hammett says she is passionate about, and organizing a 10-minute interpretive presentation took time, as she is required to have three different sources of media, from spoken word, news articles, scripts and transcripts to name a few.
“I have a transcript from the Columbine 911 library call that I interpretive act since it’s an acting event, and I have a spoken word poetry on school shootings,” she says. “I do have a Ted Talk as well from the mom of Dylan Klebold, who was one of the Columbine shooters.”
Participating in multiple contests, Hammett’s upcoming trip to nationals will require her to test her skills against the best in the country.
It’s an exciting opportunity, and the ability to speak on something she’s passionate about makes the process more natural despite the subject matter.
“A lot of people feel like they don’t have a voice, and that’s not true. Speak out for what you’re passionate about. It really does pay off. I go up there and I do what I do because it frustrates me that this is still happening almost two decades later. It’s something that’s very important to me,” she says. “But it’s honestly an honor. To even just make it to semi-finals and finals at those tournaments is crazy. To just hear your name called out on stage that you’re going to Dallas ... it’s wild.”
Dr. Michael Shane Heard, a drama and English teacher at Lafayette, is in his first year taking over speech and debate, and he says he’s inherited a stellar program.
“This whole season has been about a team that was pretty small last year, and we’ve worked and quadrupled the size of the team,” Heard says. “The running joke in our team now is ‘Lafayette who?’ Constantly people would go, ‘Who’s Lafayette? What do you mean they’re in the semi finals? Lafayette from St. Louis? No, St. Joe? Oh, wow!’ If nothing else, what it’s really done is it’s helped us as a school get some of that recognition.”
He says it’s important for students participating to understand timing, emphasis and a host of other skills to fully deliver their points, and he is proud of what the teams have accomplished. Hammett and her teammate, Dakota Nattier, placed sixth in the Duo National Qualifiers and will be in districts qualifying for state next.
It’s certainly a lot for the students to take in, but in the end, Heard says activities like these are incredibly important.
“As a student, get involved with something,” he says. “Football, basketball, choir, theater, band – that’s awesome. But the kids who are sitting around not doing anything, they don’t enjoy their high school experience, they don’t grow and get better.”
LAFAYETTE SENIOR MAKES SCHOOL HISTORY, HEADS TO SPEECH AND DEBATE NATIONAL COMPETITION
- Lafayette senior Aleigha Hammet heads to the National Speech and Debate tournament in June.
- Posted: Mar. 12, 2019 10:41 PM
- Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 9:12 AM
- (ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Lafayette senior Aleigha Hammet heads to the National Speech and Debate tournament in June.
- "In the history of Lafayette, no one has ever went to Nationals," Speech and Debate coach Dr. M. Shane Beard said.
- More than 4,500 students from across the country will compete in the national tournament and Hammet will go up against 250 individuals in her respective category.
- "More so, more than anything, I couldn't believe it," Hammet said.
- Hammet spent months preparing her piece for the national qualifier. She competed against 46 other students and finished in the top three to advance to Nationals.
- "This is the culmination of hours, hours and hours worth of work," Beard said.
- Hammet competes in Program Oral Interpretation (POI)—an interpretative event.
- "I act out of a little black book and I have three various sources of media or more in my event," Hammet said.
- Hammet's piece pertains to the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
- "It's just something that we shouldn't ignore," Hammet said. "I think it's something that we should focus on and despite what we believe, we should agree that kids, teachers shouldn't be dying in school shootings. Something needs to be done-you can argue what that is."
- Hammet uses poetry and transcripts from the 911 calls to put together a 10-minute piece—in which she alternates between characters during the presentation.
- "It's super important to get it right and represent the people and get the message across that you want to get," Beard said.
- Hammet competed seven times the night of the national qualifier—performing the full 10-minute each time.
- "I just go up there and do what I've been taught to do, what I've been practicing to do," Hammet said.
- When she heads to the national competition, Hammet will represent herself and the team—knowing all the hours her team put in with her will be front and center.
- "It's the best of the best all across the nation and it's even an honor just to go," Hammet said.
- The National Speech and Debate Tournament took place June 16-21st in Dallas, TX.