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School Notes: Hartford High Team Wins Vermont Speech Title

  • Hartford High School juniors attempt to out-cheer the rest of the high school at the beginning of Friday’s pep rally.

  • Hartford High School honored members of the school’s speech team with a pep rally on Friday to celebrate the team’s recent victory in the Vermont State Forensics Tournament. Team members, from left, are Mateo Ellerson, George Spearing, coach James Dixon, Ali Davis, David York and Clara Posner. Valley News photographs — Sarah Priestap



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Over the decades, Hartford High School students have earned renown for running, jumping, throwing, blocking, tackling, skating, kicking, slaloming and swinging their way to state team championships in football, field hockey, track and field, ice hockey, among other sports.

Then this month, a squad of six Hurricanes talked their way into the school’s first Vermont State Forensics Tournament title, to cap the program’s third season.

“I practiced a lot more this year,” junior Lucy Danger explained last week, after winning the individual competition in the original-oratory category for her speech on stereotypes in the media.

Mateo Ellerson also figures that a second time through a season also helped him score higher in the category of extemporaneous speech.

“I wasn’t so new to it as last year,” said Ellerson, one of the team’s two seniors. “I was more informed this year about current world and national issues.”

Add in George Spearing’s second-place individual finish in radio speaking, sophomore Clara Posner’s third in dramatic recitation, junior David York’s nimbleness in impromptu speech and sophomore Ali Davis’ soulful recitation of a poem, and Hartford edged out runner-up Champlain Valley Union by 15 one-hundredths of a point and third-place South Burlington by 30 one-hundredths.

“The kids were stunned when the results were announced,” said Hartford English teacher James Dixon, who coaches Hartford’s speech and debate teams. “They were looking at each other like, ‘There’s got to be some mistake.’ They were absolutely surprised.”

After seven competitions leading to the Vermont championship on Feb. 6 at the Statehouse in Montpelier, their coach took the news a bit more in stride.

“Every tournament we went to, they improved,” Dixon said. “Especially for the ones who were in their first year, it’s hard to know what you’re doing unless you do it. Then you start working on the craft. … There was a lot of individual effort. Lucy would come in and read the speech she’d been giving all season, and I’d give her feedback. She practiced it almost very day until she memorized it. And the longer Ali worked on her poem, she learned more about reciting with clarity and emphasis, where to be assertive and when to speak more softly, and when to go back and forth until she really had it down.”

Then they talked their way into a team victory at a competition in Rutland.

“We started realizing what we could do then,” Dixon said. “That was the first regular-season tournament we’ve ever won.”

And now that they’ve won the state tournament, what’s next? In the short term, among the Hartford speakers eligible to compete beyond the state level, Danger is considering going to a regional competition in Oneonta, N.Y., in March.

In the long term, Danger envisions “a possible future in journalism.” And some of her teammates aim to extend what they’ve learned beyond speech competition.

“It showed me that public speaking is not as scary as I first thought it was,” Davis said. “Now I can be more confident in interviews and speaking in front of people in general.”

Added Ellerson: “I’m going to study political science and education in college next year, and I’m planning to pursue speech and debate opportunities there.”

Collegiate Recognition

Eight Upper Valley students recently earned spots on the dean’s list at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

Maintaining grade-point averages of 3.5 or better out of a possible 4.0 during the fall 2015 semester were Hannah Burford of East Thetford, Miriam Whittington of Hanover, Richard Olsen of Norwich, Xinqiang He of Newport, Caroline Pettinato of Randolph, Kaitlyn Stokarski of Springfield, Vt., and Charlestown residents Erin LeDrew and Leah LeDrew.

∎ The Mogul network for aspiring businesswomen recently listed Bradford resident and Dartmouth College senior Reilly Johnson among the top 30 college-age women in the country showing promise as entrepreneurs. The ranking cites Johnson, a 2012 graduate of Oxbow High School who is majoring in government, for her work as press director for Dartmouth’s student assembly, for her membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Order of Omega, and for her 2013 stint in Ghana teaching reading and math to students in grades 4 to 6 for World Partners in Education.

For more information about the Mogul ranking, and about nominating students for recognition, visit onmogul.com/stories/the-top-30-college-moguls-you-need-to-know-about.

High School Honors

Lebanon High School recently named senior Lauren Anikis its student of the month for February. In addition to averaging straight As and starring for Lebanon’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams since her freshman year, Anikis is a member of the National Honor Society and of the school’s Students for Students group . She also co-teaches a mental h ealth curriculum in the teen-roles classes with counselor Emily Musty, and performs with the Wet Paint Players theater troupe. Before going to Costa Rica last fall to participate in an immersion program, Anikis spent the summer of 2015 completing her competency work in pre-calculus and in physics. Her volunteer work in the community includes the Paddle Power fundraiser for suicide prevention.

State Support 
For School Nurses

The New Hampshire Department of Education is ramping up its efforts to provide the Granite State’s school nurses with technical assistance, resources and training.

Under the coordination of Nancy Wells, R.N., a former clinical assistant professor of nursing at the University of New Hampshire, the education agency will offer services to school nurses through the Office of Student Wellness in the Bureau of Special Education, focusing on social and emotional learning and development for children in kindergarten and the early elementary grades, and on prevention and safety. Nurses seeking more information should visit NHStudentWellness.org.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Education-related items and news also can be sent to schoolnotes@vnews.com.