State championships come in many shapes and sizes at St. Thomas High School. The STH team of 30 Eagle scholars and elocutionists won first place in Academics at the 2018 TAPPS State Academic, Speech & Debate contest. They also placed second overall in the combined competition that included Speech & Debate scores.
TAPPS State Academic, Speech & Debate contest is a grueling two-day event held in Waco. STH team members participated in 18 events and earned points in 11 diverse contests, in some cases having more than one student placing in each event. Eagles scored a total of 16 times to come up with the impressive first and second place finishes in a field of 17 6A-schools, represented by 378 students competing in 19 different events.
According to Head Coach of the Academic team, Laura Thornton: “We are not just strong in math, or just strong in social studies. We are STH-strong across the board.”
The 2018 success tops five years as a contender with consecutive ascending scores. After a second place finish by the Academic team in 2017, Mrs. Thornton knew that winning was within their grasp. She recruited ten teachers as assistant coaches.
“The individual coaches for each event choose their participants, just like in a sport,” Thornton said. “Without dedicated coaches, planning meetings and organizing study materials, sending emails and reminders, and giving of themselves and of their valued time, STH could not be as successful at this event.”
The 2018 TAPPS State team took this competition seriously and had the will to win.
“For the first time, I had students coming to me and wanting scores from last year’s and previous years’ tests so that they could gauge where their own scores needed to be,” Thornton said. “During the competition, we had who I call our team statistician, David Woodlief, keeping track of other schools, how many contests we had left, how many points were available, and how many participants our competition had!”
“I’m very proud of the hard work the STH Speech & Debate team did in preparing for and competing at the TAPPS State Meet. Both veterans and newcomers came home with awards,” said Darrell Yarbrough, Head Speech & Debate Coach. “Freshman Patrick Pham kept the three-year streak going in Original Oratory by winning the 3rd place trophy. We are building a speech team that will dominate the TAPPS State contest.”