By Aly De Angelus

 Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School hosted 23 teams for the state drama, debate and forensics (DDF) championship Feb. 13-15, with Skagway taking home second place in duo interpretation of literature, third place in forensics, fifth place in readers’ theatre, and eighth place in informative speaking. 

Sadie Murphy and Loren Garduque performed a piece on rape, the most controversial performance in the duo interpretation of literature category. Skagway’s performance beat the winning team with one of the three judges and lost closely with the other two judges to finish in second. 

“In the duo finals all of them were funny except for Skagway’s,” said DDF Coach Kent Fielding. “Most students like to do light pieces because there is less emotional investment to the characters, but Skagway tends to do things that have relevance in the world.”

Murphy and Garduque cut and compiled poems from Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey” to create a 10-minute script on the various types of rape, particularly the idea of consent.

“It makes you feel uncomfortable when you watch it and it’s supposed to be uncomfortable,” Fielding said.

Skagway’s submission for readers’ theatre on nuclear proliferation was yet another thought-provoking and sensitive piece on the political and social ramifications of nuclear weapons.

“We were a bit confused with how our readers’ theatre placed, but we learned later the social commentary and controversy of the piece wasn’t appreciated by most of the judges in the final round; but that’s just how Skagway DDF does it,” said first-year member Maisha Rahman.

All five members this year are female for the first time in school history and Rahman said the team is extremely close. Between trips for DDF meets, laughing too hard at practice and serious feedback for each other’s pieces, Rahman said going to state with the team has been a highlight of her foreign exchange year.

“If I got the opportunity, I would definitely try to do something similar when I leave the U.S.,” she said.

Fielding said he is proud of the growth in this young team — comprised of one returning student, three underclassmen and an exchange student. He believes that DDF prepares students for success at the college level.

“There was an article published in the New York Times, I think it was 2012, that stated one of the things that colleges look at, before even athletic activities, is participation in the membership of national speech and debate association because schools know that students who have been in that type of activity have the ability to critically think and analyze materials,” Fielding said.

And Fielding’s passion and attention to the students has not gone unnoticed.

“Mr. Fielding is probably the coolest person I’ve met in Skagway, and he’s also a very cool coach — in the truest sense of the world,” Rahman said. “He lets us explore on our own with how we’re doing our pieces, adding suggestions here and there. He also loves pieces that push the envelope a bit, so DDF has been very interesting for me.”