Victoria Wei, a member of the Class of 2021 at Montville Township High School placed 5th in the nation in the Prepared Commentary category at this year’s National Speech and Debate Tournament. The annual event, which was originally scheduled to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, hosted over 6,000 of the nation’s top high school Speech and Debate competitors virtually from June 13 through 19, 2021.
Wei, who was one of eight MTHS students who qualified for the prestigious event, also advanced to Octas in Original Oratory.
“It’s honestly surreal. I never expected to be at the same level as the competitors I’ve admired for years and I’m so honored to have made it this far,” said Victoria Wei after placing 5th in the nation. “It feels like a great way to end my high school Forensics experience!”
Wei is also the Valedictorian of the MTHS Class of 2021.
Seven other members of the 2020-2021 MTHS Forensics team also competed at the virtual invitational. They were: Maria Papera (Senior), Thomas Chen (Junior), Ashley Xiang (Sophomore), Sophia Kuznetsova (Sophomore), Ram Pantula (Sophomore), Sunay Hegde (Sophomore), and Ananya Bhat (Freshman).
“Every year, students compete throughout the season to qualify for this distinguished competition,” said MTHS Forensics Coach Alexandra Iemmello. “Only certain competitors qualify based on their previous successes in tournaments throughout the year.”
In total, 2 Seniors, 1 Junior, 4 Sophomores and 1 Freshman represented the Montville Mustangs as they competed against the best of the best from across the United States.
In addition to Wei, five other members of the MTHS team advanced in their categories including: Sophia Kuznetsova, who advanced to Octas in both Impromptu and Pro-Con Challenge; Maria Papera, who advanced to Octas in Program Oral Interpretation, Double Octas in Poetry, and Octas in Storytelling; Ram Pantula, who for advanced to Quads in World Schools Debate; Ashley Xiang, who advanced to Octas in Informative Speaking; and Thomas Chen who advanced to Double Octas in Extemporaneous Speaking.
“It’s an amazing feat to make it to Nationals, and an extraordinary feat for these students to advance as far as they did,” said Michael Miller, head coach for the MTHS team. “The students deserve this success after all the hard work they put in all year long.”
The team is coached by Michael Miller, a teacher at Robert R. Lazar Middle School in the Montville Township Public Schools district; Alexandra Iemmello, an MTHS teacher; and Andrew Prescott, an alumna of the program who graduated MTHS in 2010.
The 2021-2022 MTHS Forensics Team is already preparing for the upcoming season.