RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph High School Senior Aaron Bennett and sister Freshman Bryn Bennett captured the State Championship title in Duo Interpretation at the recent NJ State Speech and Debate Tournament. Their win will have them performing with other state champions at the Awards in Arts Education hosted by Governor Christie’s Arts Education Committee in May.
In addition to the state title, this pair came in first place in the two leagues in which the high school Speech and Debate (Forensics) team competes and will travel to Ft. Lauderdale over Memorial Day weekend with Junior Abbey McElroy, who qualified in Oral Interpretation, and to Dallas for a week in June to compete for national titles.
“I don’t mind missing graduation for this opportunity to compete with my sister in an activity that has been my passion since 6th grade,” says Aaron Bennett. “I am honored to represent our great Randolph team and the state of New Jersey.”
Bennett was also recognized as the only senior in Northern NJ to have qualified for the CFL League’s Grand National Championships all four years of high school. He also broke Randolph’s all time points record earned in a high school career in Forensics.
The entire Randolph High School’s speech and debate team has had an incredible season. The team competed throughout the year from late September through March, attending local competitions every Saturday as well as prestigious national tournaments at Yale, Columbia, George Mason and Harvard. At each of these events, Randolph competitors have enjoyed extensive success.
At Yale, Public Forum Debate partners Senior Josh Leopold and Junior Brie Borruso placed in double-octafinals; Senior Molly Knapp semifinaled in Oral Interpretation; and Aaron Bennett placed 8th in Dramatic Interpretation. In December at George Mason, Senior Molly Knapp took first place in Dramatic Interpretation and Aaron Bennett took 6th place in Poetry as well as placing as a semifinalist in Prose.
At Harvard in February, the Bennett Duo made it to the top 12. Junior Harry Kern was an octo-finalist in Varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate at the Ridge Debates, and at the Newark Invitational, Emily Wang placed in double octofinalist.
At the state tournament at The College of New Jersey in March where the Bennetts took first, Junior Rachel Loia was a semifinalist placing 12th in the state in Dramatic Interpretation, freshman Caitlyn Dempsey placed 5th in Poetry Interpretation, Bryn Bennett placed 5th in Prose, and Aaron Bennett placed 6th in Prose.
At the national qualifying tournament held at Delbarton also in March that secured the Bennetts bid to Dallas, Sophomore Shefali Das placed as 2nd alternate with her Original Oratory.
Other team members that placed at local tournaments are: Kara Sevola, Alyssa Spagnuolo, Noah Taylor, Ashley Huang, Gillian Bolnick, Jake Wichansky, Noah Sandler, Lex Constandtinides, Claire Zou, Jordan Pontelandolfo, Jess Wattman, Samantha Tassillo, and Daniel Kim.
“The entire RHS community is incredibly proud of these talented young men and women, myself most of all,” said team coach Peter Quinn. “The amount of work they have put into their craft is astonishing, and we are so happy that their efforts have paid off so spectacularly.”
This weekend and next, students will be at local venues raising money for their team. On April 11 they will be at Alfa Bagels and A&P, and on the April 18 they will be at Burrini's and the Post Office.