BAR HARBOR, Maine — A group of students at Mount Desert Island High School garnered top prizes last weekend at a state championship speech and debate tournament.

Four of the six members of the MDI High School Speech team won first place awards, with one of those four finishing first in two categories. The group effort earned the school first place overall in the speech division, which was held Jan. 31, at Brunswick High School.

Skowhegan Area High School finished second in the speech division and Cape Elizabeth High School came in third.

Taylor LaCasse of MDI High won two first-place speech awards. She took top honors in the Novice Prose category for her reading of Mark Twain’s “How to Tell a Story,” and top honors in the Original Work category for “The Common App(prehension),” which she wrote about her experiences in applying to colleges online.

Other MDI students who won first place speech awards are Maddy Johnson, Anna Rose Keefe and Stephen Palazola. Johnson won the Novice Poetry event, Keefe the Prose competition, and Palazola the Oratorical Declamation category.

As for other members of the team, Sean Keady won second place in the Prose category, while Zach Dewey placed sixth in the Novice Poetry competition.

According to Marjory Russakoff, coach of the MDI team, teams from 14 Maine high schools made a total of 183 presentations at the event, which is sponsored by the Maine Forensics Association. The MDI team finished third overall last year in the speech division in its first year of competition.

Bangor High School and Orono High School also sent teams to compete in the speech events, Russakoff said, while Presque Isle sent a team to compete in the event’s debate division.

Attempts to contact Maine Forensics Association officials for more details about the event were unsuccessful.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....