By Chagrin Falls High School Senior Olivia Nerpouni
On March 6, Chagrin Falls High School (CFHS) juniors Eric Feucht and Grace Hoy won the Ohio Speech and Debate state championship in DUO Interpretation.
Feucht and Hoy, both 17, performed their interpretation of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by Charlie Kaufman. DUO is a two-person speech category in which competitors perform a 10-minute piece based off of a movie or play script.
This year, 1,043 students from across Ohio, including 19 Chagrin Falls High School students, virtually attended the most anticipated Speech and Debate tournament of the season in hopes of winning a title for their schools. There were 37 total DUO teams, making a CFHS win an incredible feat.
The CFHS team, led by head coach Ken Kasee, was one of 85 participating schools. Mr. Kasee, who has coached the team for six years, helped Feucht and Hoy prepare their performance over the months leading up to the state tournament. He believed that their script included all of the necessary parts that create an impactful piece. “At the start of the season, I recognized Grace and Eric’s potential to go far at the State Tournament. They were always looking for feedback on how to get better and didn’t get down on themselves if they had a bad week,” said Kasee.
Feucht and Hoy, who were recognized throughout the season for their strong speaking abilities and confidence in front of an audience, noted that their success on the team stemmed from more than just their outgoing personalities. As longtime friends, Feucht and Hoy came into the season with the advantage of a close bond that helped them work together to improve their performances throughout the season. “Grace and I are both very superstitious,” said Feucht in regards to their preparation for the tournament. “If we did well while Grace was wearing a certain pair of earrings, she would wear them at every tournament. Other than our superstitions, we just practiced a lot and ensured that we were in the right headspace before each round.”
Other schools that performed well this season included Hawken School, who won the State Tournament, and Solon High School, which was recognized as runner-up.
The tough competition in this year’s state finals pushed CFHS students to work harder than ever to perfect their speeches and ultimately bring a winning title to the school. “The feeling after we were announced as the state champions was incomparable,” said Feucht. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling that I am so glad I got to experience.”
In addition to Feucht and Hoy, junior Brenna Sincaglia placed third in Dramatic Interpretation. That, along with multiple quarter and semi-finalists, earned CFHS a “School of Excellence” award in Interpretation, given to the top five schools in Interpretation categories ― Dramatic, Humorous, Program of Oral Interpretation, and DUO.