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Mount Mercy Axcademy speech and debate team eyes national championship

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | March 04, 2014

SOUTH BUFFALO - Mount Mercy Academy’s forensic season could be called “the Year of the Seniors” as five outstanding seniors finish their speech and debate careers with their eyes set on their last national championship tournament.

The five seniors; Victoria Allen, Sarah Emmerling, Isabella Spann, Olivia Crawford and Katie Weaver have competed for Mount Mercy for the four years they have attended Mercy. They are members of Distinction in the National Forensic League, the country’s oldest honor society which recognizes academic and oratorical excellence. They are all honor students at the Academy and have built a strong reputation in the area for not only being gracious winners, but leaders in their community.

Allen has never lost a Dramatic Interpretation competition. Her ability to capture both humor and drama sets her apart in the region as an outstanding competitor. She has competed at the local, state and national levels and earned praise for her ability to capture the emotions her characters feel on a variety of levels. Victoria hopes to study Psychology at SUNY Geneseo.

Emmerling has been a stand out in the Oral Interpretation field for four years. A junior varsity and varsity champion, her portrayal of a variety of characters of different ages, sexes and backgrounds compliments her acting ability. Sarah not only competes in forensics but is an active participant in many St Francis High School plays and musicals. Sarah is going to study theater performance at Niagara University.

As an incoming freshman, Spann was drawn to forensics as she felt it would give her an opportunity to combine her academic and artistic talents. As an underclass woman, Isabella participated in interpretation events such as Dramatic Performance and Dramatic Duo. However, as a senior, she chose to move into a debate event known as Public Forum Debate. With a topic that changes monthly, a team focuses on current even topics. Isabella also wins the award for four years of driving from her home in Fredonia most Saturday mornings to participate in speech and debate. An honor student, Isabella plans on possibly studying English Literature at Bard College.

Isabella’s debate partner is Crawford who found her way to the debate side of forensics after name years of speech. A highly decorated interpretation veteran, Olivia thought she would enjoy the challenge of debate and thought the skills of argumentation would serve her well in college and beyond. Part of the national Common Core adoption includes a strong component of public speaking and argumentation, and forensics provides student with exposure to this principle on many levels. As Olivia is planning on studying Political Science at Lemoyne College next year, her forensic experience should be invaluable!

Weaver, or “The Voice of Mercy” as she is known since she does the schools’ daily announcements, uses her boundless wit and great attitude to entertain audiences. She has participated in many events from Dramatic Duo to Declamation to Oral Interpretation, always presenting a witty program and leaving audiences wanting more. Katie is currently working on an internship with Mercy alumnae Mary Wall, formerly of television’s “The Office” and is enjoying that part of the entertainment field as well. Katie is planning on attending either Regis or Canisius College in their honors programs in 2014 and studying towards her MBA.

Behind these seniors are a group of underclass students who are just as bright and talented as these young women who serve as their role models. Mount Mercy hopes to field a strong team for states and nationals this year as they have in other years. In fact, some incoming freshmen have already shown interest in joining this remarkable group.

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