Monday, August 24, 2009

Fat Cats at Cat Nats

May 24, 2009

Albany, NY - Bronx Prep brought a formidable squad to the National Championships of the Catholic Forensics League this year and came away with some hardware. BP students Jamej Lawton, Matthew Alston, Tiffany McLarty, Tayshawn Layton (Duo Interpretation), Keegon Robinson (Oral Interpretation), and Chris Moncrief (Original Oratory) all represented not only their school, but the entire district of New York City as national qualifiers.

The competition was stiff; students qualified from nearly every state in the country and they descended on Albany, New York to test their mettle against one another. But after four rounds of preliminary competition, half of Bronx Prep's four entries were still in the game.

Chris Moncrief performed his oratory early Sunday morning in the octofinal round while the Duo team of Layton/McLarty competed in octos in another part of the capital. Disaster struck for the Duo team when McLarty's voice failed her due to a case of laryngitis and the team did not advance to the next round. However, Moncrief's performance in octos was enough to get him through to the quarterfinal round. This impressive achievement means that Chris was amongst the top 25 student orators amongst thousands of students competing in the CFL throughout the country. He performed admirably in quarters, but, surprisingly, did not advance to the semifinals.

Despite the frustrations, the team can take several positives away from the experience. The first is the size of the squad at the tournament. A remarkable seven Bronx Prep students qualified for CFL nationals this year. In order to qualify, a student must place in the top six of their event at the national qualifier, which was held in Manhattan in March (see blog post: Nationals II; BP Seech Straight Up OD's With It). Secondly, CFL nationals, despite being an unpredictable tournament, provides competitors with the opportunity to meet and see students perform from all over the country, giving a sense of what speech is like in every other region in the US. And finally, the ballots from the tournament also reflect the geographic diversity of the tournament. BP students received critiques from coaches with years of experience, hailing from every corner of America. Often, the best way to improve is to find the common thread of criticism from a variety of judges in order to adjust one's performance to make it impressive to every single person that sees it. Here's hoping the experience at the catholic nationals or "cat nats" provided such opportunities to each of the seven talented Bronx students that competed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


April 26, 2009

Albany, New York - The Bronx Prep Speech Team competed at the 2009 New York State Championships in April and began the postseason with a bang. Jamej Lawton filled in for an unavailable Tiffany McLarty, teaming up with Tayshawn Layton for big results. Their Duo team reached the semifinals of competition, making them one of 2009's top ten duo teams in New York state. In addition, Chris Moncrief, competing in Original Oratory, reached the final round of the State Championships, finishing in second place.

The accomplishments are doubly impressive given the fact that these students needed to qualify just to compete at this tournament. Students qualify for states by placing at at least two tournaments during the year. Chris, Tayshawn and her Duo partner for the season, Tiffany, posted strong finishes over the course of the year and earned the opportunity to compete against New York's finest forensic students.

Tiffany was unable to compete at States, but Jamej Lawton filled in admirably, learning an entire piece in under a week to wind up in the semifinals of the state championships.

Meanwhile, Chris's achievement is nothing short of stellar, yet hardly surprising, as he has proven himself as one of the state's top orators throughout the year.

Congratulations to all; here's hoping next year we crown a Bronx Prep State Champion.