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Highland debate team recognized at board meeting

3/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Scott Kriska

Team members who competed in the Eastern Ohio National Forensics League National Qualifying Tournament Feb. 16 included, from left, Emily Nosek, John DiGiacobbe, Stuart Arbuckle and Drake Withers.
Highland High School speech and debate team adviser Suzette Burtoft discussed the team’s recent achievements at the Highland Local Schools Board of Education meeting March 18.
Photo courtesy of Highland Local Schools
The Highland Local Schools Board of Education acknowledged the recent achievements of Highland High School’s speech and debate team at the March 18 meeting.

Adviser Suzette Burtoft said 25 students on the team won up to 87 trophies from competitions this school year. She said the team took second place in three competitions, third place in two competitions and fourth place in one competition.

Burtoft also addressed the achievements of an individual student on the team. She said one student, John DiGiacobbe, will compete in the National Forensic League National Tournament in Birmingham, Ala. She explained he will compete in the U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking Competition, in which he will have 30 minutes to plan and give a speech with evidence to back up his information. Highland’s team is part of the National Forensic League in the Northeast Ohio region and ranked 11th in the nation, Burtoft said.

Two students from the team also talked about their experiences. Junior Emily Nosek discussed participating in a back door qualifying state competition and her ability to qualify as the first alternate to national competition.

Senior Stuart Arbuckle discussed the benefits of belonging on this team, saying it is good preparation for any future career.

Burtoft also invited those in attendance at the meeting to the team’s community night, which will take place March 27 at 7 p.m. at Highland High School. She said the mock tournament that night will include three types of debate in two half-hour rounds, followed by awards.

Superintendent Catherine Aukerman congratulated the speech and debate team and thanked the members, parents, and team coaches April Burchett, DeVon Griffin and Andrew Lynden.

In other business:

  • Treasurer Neil Barnes said the district received Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s Award of Distinction for 2012. He explained that less than 5 percent of Ohio school districts receive this award, and districts must submit a financial report and have a clean audit to qualify for the award.
  • Highland Foundation Executive Director Theresa Wright discussed several improvements in athletic fields throughout the district, including new dugouts, new clay, new netting and shade barriers. She also said a reverse raffle will be held at Weymouth Country Club, 3946 Weymouth Road, April 20. She said the event also will include a dinner. For information, visit www.highlandfoundation.org.
  • Highland Swim Club adviser Barbara Wright read a letter from a student thanking the Board of Education for its approval for the team to compete with other schools.
  • The board approved a proposal from Highland Athletic Boosters President Bonnie Zidd regarding the continuation of fundraisers for new uniforms and equipment and membership passes for athletic events. Zidd said the fundraisers would allow businesses to purchase a banner to be hung at the football stadium or at the baseball fields and to advertise in a sports program.
  • The board approved a proposal from Supervisor of Operations Jim Reusch giving him permission to look for estimates for total lawn care at the schools. Reusch said the recent reduction in custodial staff has made maintaining lawns on school properties more difficult.
  • The board approved about $5,295 worth of donations for the Highland district: $659 for Hinckley Elementary, about $204 for Sharon Elementary, about $3,592 for Granger Elementary, $50 for Highland Middle School and $790 for Highland High School.
  • The board approved the North Coast Council contract for the 2013-14 school year, which would provide a new email service for staff members at the schools.

The next Highland Board of Education meeting is scheduled for April 15 at 7 p.m. in the Media Center of Highland High School, 4150 Ridge Road.

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