The top 60 high school debaters from Northern Illinois convened at Niles West High School Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, to select speakers who will represent Illinois in the National Congress.
John Hersey High School debaters performed respectably but missed qualifying for the National Forensic League's National Tournament in June. The only District 214 qualifier was Ronak Patel of Elk Grove High School.
Leading the Hersey Huskies was junior Melanie Cohodes, who finished as third alternate to the qualifier. Cohodes injured her ankle at Tae Kwon Do practice several weeks ago and delivered her speeches on crutches.
One judge noted that the crutches limited her ability to gesture as she spoke, although most judges took her injury into consideration.
"Melanie showed exceptional fortitude and courage in overcoming her injury and refusing to stay on the sidelines," said Hersey coach Tom Smith.
Junior Mike Miller finished as fourth alternate, Katherine Surma as fifth alternate, and Ben Goldberg as sixth alternate. The research skills of the debate team were tested for this tournament, because they had only one week to study the 15 pieces of legislation for the contest.
"The debaters faced demanding competition in this contest, and I hope it prepares them for the IHSA Finals in Bloomington, when they will face many of the same opponents," said Hersey coach Jack Stanislaw.
The team is now preparing for the Illinois High School Association Finals at Illinois Wesleyan University March 15-16.
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