It's incredible how a little known competition in our area creates an opportunity of a lifetime for these students.

Though it's unpopular in Central New York, almost everybody knows about it in bigger markets. And there are so many great reasons why.

Credit - Mount Markham Central School via Facebook
Credit - Mount Markham Central School via Facebook

Speech & Debate

What sport is that? Yup... a question I was actually asked by someone in college. Where people look like they are just talking to walls, they are actually doing something much bigger than that. Building fundamental interpersonal and communication skills to last a lifetime.

Speech & Debate is a club at Mount Markham, coached by Suzanne Culver, where students compete in a variety of different events, all working towards the goal of going to the state and national tournament. The events range from everything, from doing a 10 minute play all by yourself (Humorous/Dramatic Interpretation) to debating national/state topics on both sides of the argument (Lincoln Douglas Debate).

Read More: Mt. Markham Uses Tape to Create Unique Artwork on School Walls

If you think "oh, this is just for the nerds"... then you'd be surprised what famous people have actually benefitted from competing in it throughout the years. Notable names include Stephen Colbert, Nancy Cartwright, Josh Gad, Chadwick Bozeman, Zac Efron and so many more.

Students at Mt. Markham compete at the regional level (in Albany) before qualifying for states and nationals. This year, the team did phenomenal.

New York State Tournament - Bronx, NY

This year, over 70 schools and 1100 students competed in the Bronx for top honors in a variety of categories. But that didn't faze anyone from our region.

For Mt. Markham, MacKenzie Roth and Nicholas Thomas both finished in the top half of their events. A great accomplishment for first-year competitors. Junior Lana Mahar was exceptional, finishing 3rd overall in her event. They became the first student ever from Mt. Markham to make it into finals in an event.

Credit - Suzanne Culver
Credit - Suzanne Culver

To put it in perspective, most other students competing are from private schools who specialize in many events the tournament offers. Lana proved it doesn't matter where you're from or how big your school is, hard work pays off.

NCFL Grand National Tournament - Louisville, KY

One of the greatest honors of competing in Speech & Debate is getting to travel AND compete at the national level. This year the students went off to Louisville, Kentucky for the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament.

Credit - Suzanne Culver
Credit - Suzanne Culver

All students competed well, but also used the opportunity to explore and learn more about Louisville. For some, it was their first time traveling out of New York State. The fact forensics could provide an opportunity like this, it's absolutely priceless.

Read More: Vote CNY Teacher & Cancer Survivor to Cover HERS Magazine

As someone who competed in Speech & Debate in high school, I cannot express enough how much this changed my life. Not only did I get to travel to Sacramento, Ft. Lauderdale, and Louisville to take in the sights, but I also learned incredible skills that helped me both in my professional and personal life.

Above all, I made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. To be honest, this is all something sports in school could never guarantee, but Speech & Debate could. Congrats to Mt. Markham and their continued success. I hope other districts across Central New York see this and give their students the amazing opportunity to grow like I did.

2023 List Of Best High Schools For Sports In New York- Top 11

Where in New York State will you find the best high schools for sports? Niche recently published their list of 2023 best high schools for sports across New York State. Here's a look at their Top 11:

Some Surprises On the List of the 12 Biggest School Districts in Upstate New York!

Most people in Upstate New York graduated from very small school districts. I know I did, 308 students. But what about those in the larger cities?

Here is a list of the dozen largest school districts in Upstate New York. For those of us from small rural schools, it is mind-boggling to imagine graduating from a school with 10,000, 20,000 and even 40,000 students in the district like some of those on this list did.


Inside Abandoned Herkimer Elementary School

Take a step back in time inside an abandoned school in Herkimer, New York where desks and memories are littered with decay.

3 Central New York Schools Among the Worst in the State, 4 at the Top

Here are the best and worst schools in Central New York according to

Wow! These Ten Smallest Upstate New York Schools Keep Teaching Their Kids The "3 R's"

These are the ten smallest school districts in New York (by enrollment). Notice they are almost exclusively located in the rural parts of Northern New York. Still, credit must be given for the historic nature of these special schools.