Featured Team: Chesterton HS - #1 Team in Country, 2009

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There can only be one top speech team unveiled at Nationals, and this year it was Chesterton High School from Chesterton, Indiana. To be listed as one of the ten best teams, all the individual scores from every competitor on the team are added together for a cumulative rank. Points are given based on the results of rankings in a round. Chesterton, with a score of 1378, beat Neosho High School of Missouri by just two points! Intense competition!

Numerous team wins and sweeps at tournaments catapulted Chesterton to success. With a final round break at Nationals in Extemporaneous Speaking (U.S. edition) by Tyler Fabbri for 5th, and solid, consistently spectacular ranks by the rest of the team throughout the year, Chesterton solidified their status as the top scoring team of the 2009 season.

Chesterton Speech and Debate is not a team that “came out of nowhere.” Established in 1967, Chesterton has proved to be a constant source of excellence. Stated proudly by the team’s website, Chesterton can boast “17 state speech championships, 13 state debate championships, and countless other victories” (http://www.duneland.k12.in.us/chs/sdweb/forensics.htm). With a team member count that exceeded 150 during the 2002-2003 season, and presumably is still hovering around that quantity, it is effortless to see why the team scored colossal numbers this year.

Such a gargantuan membership indicates strong leadership and a fun work atmosphere. Why else would 150 students join and compete? And stay on the team? Perhaps it is the coaches. James Cavallo (Computer Applications, Debate), Kirsten Reed (English 9, Debate), Robert Kelly (English 10, Speech), Douglas Pishkur (English 9, Speech, Advanced Composition), Barbara Funke (English 10, Theatre Arts), and Sarah Good (English 11, Speech, Advanced Composition) must be offering a speech experience unlike anything else.

And from what their titles suggest of the type of coaching speechies from Chesterton receive, I can understand why the team ranked so well. Advanced competition? I do not know what other speech teams offer, but at my high school we had a few coaches that worked on several events. And there was only one level of speech training. We did not have “advanced competition” for Varsity. Kudos to Chesterton for taking speech and debate seriously. The team’s organization and division of labor no doubt helped propel them to victory.

I also would wager that with 150 members, and a fierce coaching program that must work as one in order to succeed, Chesterton is a team that acts more like a family. Speech teams with discontent to not have this sort of membership nor tend to rank as high. Support and trust builds a happy team, and a happy team leads to conquest.

Congratulations to Chesterton for their latest win!

(For more information about Chesterton High School, such as specific tournament results, their website is http://www.duneland.k12.in.us/chs/sdweb/forensics.htm .)

Wow, 150 members is a huge number of people for one team. Those kind of numbers definitely can't hurt.
I wonder what "advanced competition" really means... I have heard of some of the top-performing schools integrating forensics into some of the course-work to improve dedication and performance. Perhaps there's an element of this integration at Chesterton.

Congratulations to Chesterton. What an achievement!

I remember nationals my sophomore year in philadelphia. I stayed at the same hotel as Chesterton and some of their performances were awesome. Their students are quality and that is a product of good coaching. One question lis...isn't Neosho High School in Indiana?

Brian, you are absolutely right. Neosho HS is in Indiana. That was a gross typo on my behalf. Thank you for pointing that out (no sarcasm intended, seriously thanks).

I suppose I shouldn't be multi-tasking and looking at information for multiple schools at once, haha.

That's alright! Thank you for admitting and correcting your mistake.

Congratulations to Chesterton! You guys have mad skills!

I knew Chesterton was good. But I didn't know they were the best in the nation! I compete against students from Chesterton a few times a year. We're in the same state, but we're in the South and they are in the North. I also find it funny that I am from Indiana and have never heard of Neosho High School, apparently a major speech team. It must also be a northern school. In response to integrating speech into curriculum, yes this is true. I have often heard that Chesterton has a class for it's speech team in which most of what they do every day is practice. That must be why so many of their coaches teach speech. Way to go Chesterton! I wish our team had the dedication, and skills of yours! :)

Nope. You're so very wrong.

Neosho is in Missouri.

Coached by David Watkins.

-Devin Kelsey
20th in the Nation in LD
From Parkview High, 4th in the nation, also in Missouri

You're right. I am so very wrong. It appears trying to do geography early in the morning is not a good thing for me.

Corrections have been made appropriately.

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