Douglas team rewarded at district event |

Douglas team rewarded at district event

Lea Gifford displays her fourth-place trophy in Humorous Interpretation at the Nevada State Forensics Championships earlier this month in Las Vegas.
Special to The R-C

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Three long days for the Douglas High School speech and debate team were well rewarded last weekend at the Northern Nevada Forensics League District Championships in Reno.

Lea Gifford placed in three events and was presented with the Student of the Year award during the district championship event held March 22-24. Other Douglas team members also endured several hours of competition to put themselves in position to participate at the National Speech & Debate Association Tournament.

“I am very proud of the students’ efforts all around,” Douglas coach Karen Heine said. “Thursday, we left here (Douglas) at 7:30 in the morning and did not get back until 10. Friday, we left at 1 p.m. and did not get back until midnight. Then on Saturday, we were on the bus at 6:30 in the morning and didn’t get back here until 1:30 the next morning.”

Congress debate was held on Thursday at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino followed by double elimination competition Friday and Saturday at Reno High School.

“The kids had to keep going until they had two losses; and, some of those kids, they would not lose,” Heine said.

She went on to acknowledge that Douglas received the Leading Chapter Award, a national recognition for excellence in speech and debate.

“This is based on the number of members and degrees being earned by the entire squad,” Heine explained.

Gifford, a senior, took second-place in Original Oratory and earned an automatic invitation to the national championships on June 16-24 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“She wrote a persuasive speech on the Constitutional amendments,” Heine said.

Gifford also placed fourth in Humorous Interpretation and third in Congress to qualify for nationals as an alternate in both of those events. This marks the third straight year she has qualified for nationals and the 25th straight year Douglas has had a qualifier, Heine added.

“She was one of the few three event winners in the final rounds of all her events,” Heine said of Gifford. “Student of the Year is quite an honor. Every time these kids speak, they get a certain number of points awarded on a national scale and Lea has accumulated more points than any team member I’ve seen in the past.”

Sisters Camille Maalouf and Isabelle Maalouf earned third-place in Duo Interpretation and are in position to qualify for nationals. As alternates, they can move up if another qualifier gives up their spot.

Raeann Armstrong has been confirmed as a nationals qualifier in World Schools Debate — “It is an honor awarded to the top scoring students who were one point away from going to nationals in their regular event,” Heine said. Armstrong also took fourth-place in Dramatic Interpretation.

Hannah Brzuchalski placed 10th in Congress and received a district finalist medal.

Heine said the Douglas team will hold fundraisers to cover the cost of sending as many as four students to the national championships. The trip will cost about $1,200 to $1,300 for each student, she added.


Gifford took fourth place in Humorous Interpretation at the Nevada State Speech and Debate Tournament on March 16-17 hosted by Arbor View High School in Las Vegas.

“While the other kids did not return with medals, they came back with more experience and a new eagerness to compete next year,” Heine said. “This is a wonderful group of kids. I am inspired by their passion for the things that they choose to do. It makes me glad that I am the coach and teacher.”