Back to back champions!

LHS defends State Drama Title, takes 3rd in Speech and Debate
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, February 4, 2021
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Laurel High School’s Drama team won the Class A State Title on Saturday and the Speech and Debate team brought home 3rd place. Two Speech and Debate teammates and two Drama teammates brought home individual State Championships as well. On the left are Sarah Thomae and Ava Fox (1st in Public Forum Debate), and on the right are Abigail Molm and Katie LeBrun (1st in Dramatic Theatre). Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

For the second time in three years, the Laurel High School Drama team is the Class A State Champions. The Speech/Debate team improved on their 4th place finish last year, earning a spot on the podium by taking 3rd out of 20 Class A schools.

The 2021 State Championship was held virtually Jan. 28– 30 at the Laurel Middle School and hosted by Sidney High School. Twenty Class A schools competed for the team sweepstakes award in speech/debate and drama. Laurel was the only school to place in the top three in both team sweepstakes, extending the program’s streak to five years in a row where they have finished in the top four in both categories.

This year saw two duos win their respective categories with sophomores Katie LeBrun and Abigail Molm the State Champions in Dramatic Theatre and juniors Ava Fox and Sarah Thomae bringing home the Public Forum Debate title. Molm also took 2nd in Pantomime and LeBrun finished 4th in Classical Theatre.

Other drama team finalists who helped keep the title in Laurel were: Ava Arrowsmith, 4th in classical theatre and 3rd in dramatic theatre; Bergen Handegard, 3rd in dramatic theatre; Brett Larkins, 4th in humorous solo; Lauren Johannsen, 4th in dramatic solo; Hailey Vondal, 4th in pantomime; Alana Sandmeier and Rachel Thompson, 5th in classical theatre; Morgan Rollman and Emmersyn Thomas, 6th in classical theatre (Rollman also placed 6th in pantomime) and Madison Bratton, 7th in dramatic solo. Also competing for the drama team were Caitlyn Morgan in humorous solo and Mattison Mickelson and Chloe Maurer in humorous duo.

Speech and Debate state finalists were: Tommy Amestoy, 2nd in informative; Easton Kyhl, 2nd in Lincoln-Douglas debate; Everett Hilliard and Ethan Chatwood, 3rd in policy debate; Adam Sutton, 4th in humorous interpretation; Shae Goeke 5th in extemporaneous; Sara Bocquin 7th in impromptu and 6th in extemporaneous; Jenna Scott, 8th in original oratory and Emily Virgil, 9th in dramatic interpretation. Also competing for the speech and debate team and earning team points were Regan Harris, Aidan Peers, Jered Jares, Reegan O’Rear, Tazsia Brester, Liam Bickel and Madi Nevin.

Although all meets were held virtually throughout the year, the kids adapted and obviously thrived in the new format. However, the new “Zoom–like” format they used wasn’t without its problems. Katie said, “The process was new to the judges too and we started late a lot and couldn’t hear some people.” Abigail agreed and said in some cases, “We couldn’t really hear the teams and we felt bad for them.”


Abigail Molm and Katie LeBrun

Abigail and Katie’s Dramatic Theatre performance was titled “91366” and set in a tattoo parlor. It was about a rebellious young teenager about to get a tattoo in order to fit in. While there she encountered an elderly Holocaust survivor getting her concentration camp tattoo removed. In the end the survivor covered up her tattoo with the butterfly the teenager was to get and the girl learned important wisdom and lessons about individuality.

Abigail said they started working on the play in November and had team practice twice a week, but they also practiced the 10 minute piece together outside of school.

“Our coach (Doug Anderson) found the script and was convinced it would win, but at first we didn’t think it would work,” Katie said. Throughout the season there

Throughout the season there were only three meets they didn’t win and in the six rounds at the State tournament they took 1st or 2nd every time.

“Coach was anxious and nervous all week and told us we won an hour before (the formal announcement),” Abigail said, but not before messing with them a little bit. Katie said, “Coach dragged it on and would almost give us the results but then say ‘Oh, hold on, I gotta do something real quick.’”

They made it to finals as freshman and thought that was exciting, but to win was a thrill for them. “We are really excited, but it was weird to just walk out of the middle school and be done. I missed the bus ride home,” Katie said. “We watched the ceremony then had dinner together.”

Abigail said although she was appreciative of the parade that started at the high school on Monday night, “I liked how it was waiting for us when we got into town last year.”

The girls plan to remain as partners in the same category for their junior year and to have the same level of success.


Ava Fox and Sarah Thomae

After coming up just six speaker points short of breaking into the semifinals in the Public Forum Debate category at State last year, Ava and Sarah rebounded and went undefeated this year in the 2021 tournament. “We swept all eight rounds. It was weird not to lose a single round,” Sarah said, and Ava added, “We thought we lost in the semi’s but all the judges voted for us.”

Their topic at State was “Should the NSA stop surveillance on American citizens and legal permanent residents?”

They chose the “yes” side of the debate and cited the Snowden leaks and various 4th Amendment abuses as part of their case. They started each round with

They started each round with Ava reading their pre–written case within the four minute time limit. Then the opponent did the same, followed by crossfire questioning. Sarah then “attacked” the “no” argument followed by the second opponent doing the same and a crossfire debate. The final four minutes were all four competitors in the crossfire format.

Sarah said the crossfire gets heated, “but we can’t yell or talk over each other. It didn’t work perfectly in the online setting. Normally, when you are in person, one person stops talking when the other one starts.”

Ava said their topics usually change every 3–4 tournaments but this year they had a new one every three. “The coaches got us started but we did the research on our own,” Sarah said. “We wrote flows for the topics, built blocks on our computers and studied previous weeks debates, which made it more personal for us,” Ava said.

They didn’t know the results until the formal online award ceremony but Sarah said, “we felt pretty good about it.”

Laurel coaches Liz Schwartz, Doug Andersen and Daniel Porisch would like to thank Laurel Public Schools and the Laurel community for supporting speech, drama and debate. They would also like to voice their appreciation for all the competitors on the squad for all their hard work making this virtual season a success.


The Laurel Outlook


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