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Highland Speech Team earns top national placement in program history

The Highland Speech and Debate Team, capping a strong competition season, had a historic showing at the 2023 Phi Rho Pi National Tournament in mid-April. Competing against schools from across the nation, Highland had the strongest team showing in the program’s history.

Noah Redmore came away from the competition as a National Gold Medalist. Redmore is only the second all-time Highland gold medal winner in the last 25 years for Highland Community College.

“Joining the Highland Speech Team was one of the best decisions I could’ve made,” Redmore said. “I made a lot of really great friends, saw some of the best public speakers across the country, and learned so much.”

He adds, “We had a great season and ended with a bang in D.C. The only way I can describe bringing a national gold award back to Highland is an honor. I also want to make it very clear that I gave the speech, but it was the team that won. I genuinely could not have done it without each and every single one of them. I’ve never met a more supportive and talented group of people.”

From April 8-15, the Highland Speech and Debate Team traveled to the Washington, D.C. metro area for the 2023 Phi Rho Pi National Tournament. Established in 1929, Phi Rho Pi is the national organization for community college forensics (speech and debate) competitions. Highland Community College has regularly attended the competition since the college’s earliest years, and the 2023 tournament represented a new competitive high mark for the program. The team received its highest team sweepstakes placing since pre-1990, more than doubling its previous team record number of advancements to the semifinal and final rounds.

“To say that I am proud of this group of students would be a major understatement. They represent the very best of what Highland has to offer — they are intelligent, driven, hard-working, compassionate, and curious about the world around them,” said Harry Bodell, Highland Speech instructor, and team coach. “While we had an incredible time exploring Washington, D.C. and experiencing inspiring competition, the best part of the national experience was watching these students come together as a family to support one another through every high and low.”

This season, Phi Rho Pi Nationals was hosted at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Rockville, M.D. (just outside Washington, D.C.). Community college students from around the country competed throughout the week, with finalists in each competition category advancing to the top 20 percent semifinal and top 10 percent final rounds. Those who advanced to the semifinal rounds received bronze medals, while those who advanced to the national final rounds received either silver medals placing in the top 10 percent or gold medals placing in the top 5 percent.

Accompanied by Bodell and Assistant Coach Kevyn Sutter, seven students represented Highland at the tournament: Maddie Eppenstein (Savanna), Mason McIntyre (Freeport), Brooke Allison Parkinson (Freeport), Noah Redmore (Freeport), Tabitha Roenneburg (Lena), Ruby Snyder (Davis), and Olivia Wilhelms (Freeport).


Communication Analysis

Brooke Allison Parkinson, Bronze Medalist

Mason McIntyre, Bronze Medalist

Dramatic Interpretation

Noah Redmore, Bronze Medalist

Extemporaneous Speaking

Mason McIntyre, Bronze Medalist

Speech to Entertain

Noah Redmore, Silver Medalist

Tabitha Roenneburg, Bronze Medalist

Persuasive Speaking

Noah Redmore, National Gold Medalist

Photo (left to right): back row — Kevyn Sutter, Ruby Snyder, Noah Redmore, Brooke Allison Parkinson, Mason McIntyre, and Harry Bodell; front row — Maddie Eppenstein, Olivia Wilhelms, and Tabitha Roenneburg.