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.

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