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Speech & Debate Team


Bethel Park Results
Congratulations to the Highland Speech & Debate Team on an impressive showing on February 10 in Bethel Park, PA! Placing for Highland were:

  • Taylor Headrick, Tournament Champion, Humorous Interpretation;
  • AbbyGrace Catron, Tournament Champion, Program of Oral Interpretation;
  • Evan Buck, 2nd place, IX;
  • Emma Crone, 2nd place, Program of Oral Interpretation;
  • Andy Mockbee and Cecelia Mainzer, 2nd place, DUO;
  • Quade Mainzer, 2nd place, LD;
  • Brock Withers, 3rd place, HI;
  • Kyle Hazard, 3rd place, Congress;
  • Christopher Sollenberger, 4th place, IX;
  • Grace McCormick, 4th place, Original Oratory;
  • Leah and Lauren Johnson, 5th place, DUO;
  • Andras Fabian, Ray Flannery, Max Mendel, Emma Pappas were semi-finalists;
  • Julie Origlio, Maddie MacMUrray and Olivia Russo were quarter-finalists; and
  • Tian Treb was an LD Octafinalist.

Highland Qualifies 31 for State CompetitionSpeech Team State Qualifiers
Congratulations to Highland's Speech and Debate Team! The team will be taking 31 members to the State Tournament to be held the first weekend in March. State qualifiers include:

  • Emily Hoose and Grace Stiller in Declamation Category (Ally Arline is 1st Alternate);
  • Cecilia Mainzer, Andy Mockbee and Lauren and Leah Johnson in Duo Interpretation;
  • Andras Fabian, Taylor Headrick and Brock Withers in Humorous Interpretation;
  • Ava Mastrianni and Nathan Gillin in Informative Speaking (Elizabeth Oberhaus is 1st Alternate);
  • Evan Buck, Christopher Sollenberger and Jacob McPherson in Extemporaneous Speaking;
  • Tian Treb and Quade Mainzer in Lincoln Douglas Debate; 
  • Ray Flannery, Tess Gallaspie, Grace McCormick and Varun Natarajan in Original Oratory;
  • AbbyGrace Catron, Emma Crone and Kennedy Shelton in Program of Oral Interpretation;
  • Madelyn MacMurray and Olivia Russon in Public Forum Debate; and
  • Kyle Hazard, Nick McFadden, Emma Pappas and Aaron Neil in Congressional Debate.

Highland Captures 3rd Place at Wooster Tourney Pictured from left are Ava Mastrianni, Taylor Headrick, Andras Fabian, Brock Withers, AbbyGrace Catron, Quade Mainzer and Chris Sollenberger.
Congratulations to the entire Highland Speech & Debate Team on a superior showing at the Wooster High School tournament on January 20. The Highland team placed 3rd out of 26 teams with 763 competitors. The following Highland students placed at the tourney:

  • Christopher Sollenberger, 5th in International Extemporaneous Speaking;
  • Quade Mainzer, quarter-finalist in Lincoln Douglas Debate;
  • Ava Mastrianni, 4th in Informative Speaking;
  • AbbyGrace Catron, champion in Oral Interpretation;
  • Brock Withers, champion in Humorous Interpretation, while Andras Fabian placed 6th and Taylor Headrick placed 2nd.
  • Additionally, Mastrianni, Nathan Gillin and Fabian earned their final bids towards the State Tournament. Currently, Highland now has six students locked in for States!

Pictured from left are Ava Mastrianni, Taylor Headrick, Andras Fabian, Brock Withers, AbbyGrace Catron, Quade Mainzer and Chris Sollenberger.

Teams finishes 2nd at Vermillion Tourney
Congratulations to the team on a 2nd place finish at Vermillion on December 9! Placing for the team this week were:

  • Humorous Interpretation: Taylor Headrick, 3rd; Brock Withers, 4th; Andras Fabian, 6th
  • Informative Speaking: Ava Mastrianni, 3rd
  • Lincoln Douglas Debate: Tian Treb, 5th
  • Declamation: Grace Stiller, 5th
  • Big Question Debate: Sarah Karkoff, 6th
  • Student Congress (Out of three Chambers): Austin Lindsay, 6th; Aaron Neil, 4th; Emma Pappas, 5th; Kyle Hazard, 3rd; Nick McFadden, 5th
  • Original Oratory - Ray Flannery was tournament champion!

Teams finishes 3rd at Stow Tourney Speech Winners from Stow Tourney
Out of 22 teams, Highland finished 3rd at the Stow tournament on December 2. 

Placing for the team were:

  • Humorous Interpretation: Taylor Headrick, 3rd; Brock Withers, 5th; Andras Fabian, 2nd
  • Informative Speaking: Nathan Gillin, 5th
  • International Extemporaneous Speaking: Evan Buck, 4th; Chris Sollenberger, 5th
  • Duo Interpretation: Cecilia Mainzer & Andy Mockbee, 4th; Lauren and Leah Johnson, 5th
  • Program of Oral Interpretation: Emma Crone, 4th
  • Public Forum: Olivia Russo and Madelyn MacMurray, 4th
  • Student Congress (Out of three Chambers, the following placed): Austin Lindsay, 6th; Aaron Neil, 5th; Emma Pappas, 5th; Kyle Hazard, 2nd; Nick McFadden, 1st in his chamber.
  • Receiving a Bid towards the state tournament were: Andras Fabian, Nathan Gillin, Emma Crone, Olivia Russo and Madelyn MacMurray
  • Receiving a Bid and the first in our district to be locked in to compete at States in March in Humorous Interpretation are Taylor Headrick and Brock Withers

Highland Team Places 3rd at Season's Opening TourneyPictured from left are: Taylor Headrick, Brock Withers, Ava Mastrianni, Evan Buck, Grace McCormick, Emma Crone, Abby Catron and Tian Treb
Congratulations to the Highland Speech and Debate Team on their 3rd place finish at the Perry High School Tournament on November 5.  Highland competed against 40 teams from across the state in the season's first tournament.  Placing for Highland were:

  • Humorous Interpretation: Taylor Headrick and Brock Withers, tied for 2nd (individually)
  • Informative Speaking: Ava Mastrianni, 3rd place
  • International Extemporaneous Speaking: Evan Buck, 6th place
  • Original Oratory: Grace McCormick, 6th place
  • Oral Interpretation: Emma Crone, 5th place; and Abby Grace Catron, 4th place
  • Lincoln Douglas Debate: Tian Treb, 7th place 

Each of these students earned a BID towards the State Tournament in March. Once a student earns four BIDS, then he or she locks in a position at the State competition. Nick McFadden made it to the top 18 in Student Congress (Super Congress) out of the 99 that were competing.  

Pictured from left are: Taylor Headrick, Brock Withers, Ava Mastrianni, Evan Buck, Grace McCormick, Emma Crone, Abby Catron and Tian Treb (Photo by Cecilia Mainzer)

Highland’s Speech and Debate Team is an active member of the Akron Chapter of the Ohio High School Speech League (OHSSL).  The OHSSL is the state’s organizing body of competitive speech / debate and is affiliated with the national organization, the National Speech and Debate Association; formerly known as the National Forensics League (NFL). Highland’s Speech and Debate Team is funded solely through donations and fundraising efforts. Our team competes in a 12-week season and over the past few years the team has grown to an all-time high of 68 students and is successfully competing in tournaments each week. We have recently been recognized as one of the “Top 2% Schools in the Nation!” 

Competitive speech and debate is a high school activity that helps teach students skills such as public speaking and analytic thinking. These skills are so highly valued that our students often have advantages in scholarship opportunities and admission into prestigious colleges and universities. In fact, many students from our team not only learn these skills but excel at them and have earned scholarships at the universities they attend. One of the many accomplishments for which our students strive is to qualify to our state and or national tournament. Like athletic pursuits, one of the greatest goals for a student is the potential to be “State or National Champion.” Your sponsorship would be reflected publically on our web page, on the back of team t-shirts, at our annual tournament held in December and our Community Night / Award Night through both publication and programming. If you need further information, you can contact Highland High School’s Speech and Debate Team’s head coach, Suzette Burtoft, at 330-239-1901, ext. 5124, or via email at sburtoft@highlandschools.org for further information. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Online donations for the team can also be made through the Highland PAY FOR IT link or clicking HERE.Click on the donations box and choose Speech and Debate Team.

Speech-Debate Individual/Corporate Sponsor Form

*Final season tournaments are MANDATORY (unless otherwise notified by coach)
Locations are subject to State calendar and may change.

  • Saturday, 11/4/17
  • Saturday, 11/11/17
  • Saturday, 11/18/17
  • Saturday, 12/2/17
  • Friday, 12/15/17 (Debate only) / Saturday, 12/16/17 (Full team)
  • Saturday, 1/6/18
  • Saturday, 1/13/18
  • Friday, 1/19/18 (Policy Debate only) / Saturday, 1/20/18 (Full team)
  • Saturday, 1/27/18
  • Community Night / Awards Presentation at HHS: Wednesday, 1/24/18 (This is a required event for the entire team)
  • OHSSL, Saturday, 2/3/18 (Littles)
  • EONFL District, Friday, 2/16/18 (Debate) / Saturday, 2/17/18 (Both teams) (Bigs)
  • State Tournament (Sylvania Southview), Thursday, 3/1/18 through Saturday, 3/3/18
  • EONFL Congress (Bigs), Saturday, 3/24/18 


CAM, Inc.
Mike & Patti Mockbee
Michael & Cheryl Treb
Maureen Dabbieri – Allstate Insurance
Mark & Glenna Jackson

David G. Hass, DDS
Julian R. Demand-Balski, DDS, Inc.
Ron Less – Allstate Insurance
Karen Ford
Mr. & Mrs. Fabian
Dr. Angela R. Gasser, DDS
Dr. Roy D. Presser, DDS
Dr. Julie Reevers, MD

Speech and Debate Team Council 2016-17:

  • President: Grace McCormick
  • Co-President: Ava Mastrianni
  • New Member Coordinator: Lauren Johnson & Emily Hoose 
  • Secretary: Evan Buck 
  • Treasurer: Andy Mockbee
  • Fundraiser: Brock Withers & Julie Origlio
  • Social Events Coordinator: Emily Hoose & Emma Crone 
  • Photographer: Kennedy Shelton
  • Bus Coordinator: Andras Fabian