The Juneau-Douglas High School team won the all-state academic trophy, with a 3.59 cumulative grade point average, at the state high school debate, drama and forensics championships in Anchorage on Wednesday..
According to Juneau debate and forensics coach Bill Ralston, it's the first time JDHS has won this award in his 13 years' involvement with the team. The drama team advisor is Cricket Curtain.
This was a bit of a building year for the JDHS team, Ralston said.
"Last year we took both second and third place in the state in debate and finished in third place overall, but we lost quite a few seniors to graduation," he said.
Of the 15 students competing for Juneau this year at state, 11 made it as far as semifinals in at least one event.
Lia Carpeneti advanced to semifinals in Extemporaneous Commentary and Original Oration; Christa Fagnant advanced in Dramatic Interpretation and Pantomime; and Kathleen Vinson, a freshman, advanced in Duet Acting and Pantomime. Those were the only Juneau students who advanced in multiple events. Carpeneti eventually made it to finals in Oration and placed sixth among 25 speakers.
Others advancing to semifinals included Hanni Liliedahl and Christina Bruce in Duo Interpretation, along with Katharina Musiol, Elizabeth Wertheimer, Mike James, Paul Marshall, and Claire Baldwin in Pantomime. Kendra Barnes also advanced in Duet Acting.
This year most Juneau students in DDF who went to state were novices. It was a successful season, with Juneau students making strong showings at both the Sitka and Ketchikan meets, in February and March, to close out the regular season, Ralston said.
At state, two of the three debate teams were primarily first-year debaters.
All three teams had a chance to break into the quarterfinals going into their last round of debate on April 6. All three teams had compiled 2-2 records at that time, and it would take at least a 3-2 record to advance.
As it turned out, all three teams lost in their final round. However, the novice team of Alejandro Sadighi and Zach Kohan beat a strong Sitka team that later advanced. Freshman Lauren Brooks, with the help of her partner, senior James Voelckers, gained valuable experience for next year, Ralston said.
Carpeneti, who finished third at state in debate last year, and her partner Liliedahl, won their first two rounds. That put them into power-matched rounds for the next three. Power-matching pits teams with similar records against one another. The next three debates were extremely close, but the team finished with a 2-3 overall record. All three Juneau debate teams held a share of sixth place when all rounds were completed.
Twenty-five teams competed in the state tournament.
The quality of debate in Southeast was affirmed, with three Sitka teams and one Haines team advancing to quarterfinals. All of Sitka's teams were eliminated in that round, but the Haines team of Micah Bochart and Luke Hedrick advanced to the final round, where they claimed second place after being defeated by West High School's Kevin Boots and Moira Sullivan on a split decision ballot. Hedrick was also named the tournament's outstanding speaker.
Participating with the team for the second year in a row was Justin Dorn, the Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year for Alaska. Justin qualified for state in extemporaneous speaking, expository speaking and debate, having placed among region five's top speakers consistently all season.
Jesse Stringer, who won three events in the season's first track meet last weekend in Sitka, also participated in debate and forensics this year. He qualified for state in extemporaneous commentary and debate. It was no surprise that both of these team members did not compete at state, Ralston said. "Both made it clear from the beginning what their priorities were and I have no problem with that," he said. "It was great to have them on the team. Both added a lot of team spirit to the group."
Other athletes of note on the team include Zach Kohan, a pitcher and second baseman for the baseball team. He travelled to state in debate and forensics. Alejandro Sadighi, a nationally ranked tennis player, was Kohan's debate partner.