Homer students place at Drama, Debate and Forensics state competition

Students from Homer High School had a successful weekend of competition last weekend at the Drama, Debate and Forensics State Championship in Anchorage.

The Homer team sent five students to the competition that spanned Feb. 22-24. Theo Castellani, Asa Panarelli, Katarina Hockema, Larry Dunn and Eleanor Sweeney all had their moments on stage. Panarelli and Castellani took second place in the state for the Duet category, which is a drama event, according to Coach Hilary Brant.

Homer placed third overall as a team for its district in the Drama Sweepstakes award.

Brant said in an email that Dunn and Castellani also took first place in the Public Forum Debate at a meet earlier this month in Anchorage.

“This is especially meaningful and exciting because a Homer team had not placed first in this category for almost (five) years,” she wrote.

This is Brant’s first year as the coach for Homer’s team. At a meet held in December 2018 at Homer High School, she said it was her own participation in high school and college DDF that inspired her to take the job.

“I don’t know what I would have done in high school without this … as an outlet,” she said. “I’ve just always wanted to give back.”

Brant said DDF is an important addition to Homer interscholastic activities, since not all students join sports, but still deserve something that gives them a sense of belonging.

“I think it makes them feel more comfortable in their skin, it helps them build confidence,” she said. “It helps them build public speaking, which of course is a tool that you develop and then use later in life.”

She said the activity is instrumental in building social skills and helping to form friendships.

“It’s a place to feel comfortable in,” Brant said. “To try things that you normally wouldn’t try elsewhere.”

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.