Homer High School’s Drama, Debate and Forensics team scored second place out of all Division II schools during this past weekend’s state championship tournament.
The championships were held virtually, as were most of the tournaments this season, so Homer students competed out of the high school’s library. In addition to coming in second for DII schools overall, the Homer team took first place in debate for DII schools as well.
Head coach Marjorie Dunn said that, given the circumstances of the virtual tournament, the team performed well.
“The students showed great spirit and perseverance and support of each other as teammates,” she said.
Dunn said a lot is missed when meets are held virtually that students would normally get to enjoy in face-to-face events. For example, she said competitors often form deep friendships with students from other schools all across the state, due to the nature of the tournaments in which teams from different schools have a lot of crossover.
“It is amazing how students really become good friends with students from other schools,” Dunn said.
Homer teammates did try to keep in touch with their DDF acquaintances virtually this year, she said, but the virtual tournaments just aren’t the same in terms of engagement.
One positive aspect that did come from holding the state championships remotely was that it provided the opportunity to have judges from around Alaska and even out of state, Dunn said. DDF tournaments require a large amount of adult judges in order to successfully hold all the individual events and categories. Because the meet was held virtually, organizers were able to tap people, including former High High graduates, from wherever they live to have them judge events.
Sophomore Thea Person competed in the state championships and took fifth place in the extemporaneous commentary event. This is her second year on the team, and the other two events she competed in this season were humorous interpretation and readers theater.
“It actually went remarkably smoothly,” she said of the tournament.
Virtual meets are always hard, but she didn’t experience any tech mishaps that she can remember, she said. Person said a friend of hers found the readers theater piece she used. She was drawn to it because it had lots of characters and lots of depth for being a short piece.
Person said she found her humorous interpretation piece toward the end of last season. At that point she didn’t have time to learn and incorporate it, so she saved it for this season.
Being a sophomore, Person said she’s spent the same amount of time doing in-person DDF tournaments as she has doing virtual ones. It wasn’t easy transitioning to remote competitions this year, but she said she thinks it may have been a little easier for her to get used to it than some of the upperclassmen.
In some ways it was a whole new activity, but in others it stayed the same, she said.
“I have such an awesome team and awesome coaches,” Person said. “And even though it was a strange year, it was nice to be able to share this weirdness with them.”
Dunn said the community and Homer High School have prepared her students well for DDF and the competitions that come with it.
“We’ve got a really amazing group of students who stuck it out in this remote mode for tournaments all year long, and I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”
State DDF Championship Team awards
Homer DDF as a whole – second place for Division II schools
Homer Debate – first place for Division II schools
Eleanor Sweeney: fourth place Dramatic Interpretation
Larry Dunn: second place Domestic Extemporaneous Speech
Larry Dunn: semifinalist, Lincoln Douglas Debate (first place speaker points)
Spencer Co: semifinalist, Lincoln Douglas Debate
Zach Marley: quarterfinalist, Lincoln Douglas Debate (second place speaker points)
Thea Person: fifth place Extemporaneous Commentary
Local volunteers who helped judge the state championship: Amy Johnson, Robert Hockema, Kyle Schneider, Barb Veeck and Kyra Wager.