By Kris Freeman for White House High School
(ALBUQUERQUE, NM) — Two White House High School students were scheduled to make a trip out west in June for the 2020 National Speech and Debate Tournament, but despite the competition being moved to a virtual ceremony, Madison Freeman and Rebekah Langford still showed up big.
The National Speech and Debate Tournament was moved from Albuquerque to an online virtual format, where competitors submitted their speeches via video and then watched the rounds through Zoom, as each stage progressed to the finals. The finals were announced Saturday, June 20th.
Prior to the event, both girls were named Academic All-Americans by the National Speech and Debate Association.
Competing individually, the WHHS juniors advanced to the top 60 nationally in two categories, the top 30 in one category each, and then Langford advanced to the top 14 in that event. Langford was a semifinalist in storytelling, and an octafinalist in prose reading. She originally qualified for nationals in the informative speaking category in March. This was her second consecutive trip to Nationals, after attending with Danielle Williams in duo in 2019.
Freeman advanced to the quarterfinals in expository speaking and was an octafinalist in prepared prompt speaking. She originally qualified for the national tournament in March in original oratory. Freeman made her first national tournament appearance, but was a defending state champion in Tennessee in original oratory as a sophomore.
District and state finals were cancelled this year in Tennessee due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Langford and Freeman were the highest-ranked juniors in the state of Tennessee in speech competition. Langford was ranked fifth in total points and Freeman was sixth, and all four students above them in the state of Tennessee are graduating seniors.
Though they compete in different events, the pair will start the 2020-21 academic year ranked 1-2 in the state of Tennessee in total event points.
Each category had between 250-300 competitors to start, and is narrowed to 60, 30, 14 and then six for the finals.
The White House High School Speech Team is coached by Emily Higdon. Team members are: (L-R) Sydnee Bailey, Madison Freeman, Emily Tiepelman, Mrs. Emily Higdon, Danielle Williams, Caleb Dorris and Rebekah Langford.