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April 10, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Virtual speech and debate tournament hosted by Notre Dame last month featured middle and high school students from across the country.

Clockwise, from top left, Notre Dame eighth-graders Keegan Simon, Lucy Milback, Tina Yeras and Emily Quinn compete in multiple interpretation (forensics) at the Luck of the Irish Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament on Mar. 6. 

Notre Dame students from both the middle and upper schools placed extremely well at the Ninth Annual Luck of the Irish Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament organized and hosted by NDPMA on Saturday, Mar. 6, 2021.

Under the direction of debate and forensics coach LeAnne Schmidt, Notre Dame upper and middle school students took a number of first places in important categories across the board in the virtual event.

Notre Dame Middle School fielded 55 entries representing 75 students and the upper school saw 20 event entries from 13 students, according to Schmidt, who said it was a relief just to get such a major event accomplished, especially during a pandemic and with the participation from schools across every time zone in the contiguous U.S.

"We had students from schools that included Grand Rapids City High School, Saline High School, Burbank Senior High School (Calif.), College Preparatory School of America (Ill.), and Odyssey Institute of Advanced and International Studies (Ariz.)," she said. "After some initial concerns about whether we should even run a forensics tournament with all of the 2020/2021 obstacles, the January opening of the forensics season brought some helpful protocols in the two leagues in which we compete, which gave us a road map to hold our event virtually this year."

Notre Dame seventh-graders Annabella Kilanowski, Gabriela Rodriguez, Lucy Silver and Isabel Rodriguez participate in the Luck of the Irish Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament on Mar. 6.

Schmidt added that NDPMA's tournament was appreciated by the other schools that competed, especially where students had been previously denied the opportunity to participate in any events this school year. 

"We're very pleased that we could offer a venue to all interested parties," she said. 

The Congressional Debate portion of the tourney also served as the determining event for two students in Michigan who would advance to the National Speech and Debate Association national tournament in June and six students who would advance to the National Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament during the Memorial Day weekend. As a result of their performance, those students now include Notre Dame's Luka Cvetkovic NDP'23, Amishi Mahajan NDP'21, Gabriella Sarti NDP'22, Katherine Schmidt NDP'22, Michael Kenny NDP'24 and Thomas Belej NDP'23.

In addition, the following students from Notre Dame finished in first place in other forensic events during the tourney:

    Broadcasting: Michael Kenny NDP'24
    Declamation: Jack Karasek NDP'25
    Dramatic Interpretation: Katherine Schmidt NDP'22
    Duo Interpretation: Caroline Powell NDP'26 and Lucy Silver NDP'26
    Impromptu Speaking: Luka Cvetkovic NDP'23
    Multiple Interpretation: Lucy Milback, Emily Quinn, Keegan Simon and Tina Yeras, all NDP'25
    Poetry Interpretation: Meredith Wilson NDP'26
    Sales Speaking: Eric Davis NDP'25
    Storytelling: Julia Pakkala NDP'26

Schmidt noted that putting on such a major event with so many participants would have been nearly impossible without the help she received from the Notre Dame community and beyond.

"I am so thankful for the parent volunteer judges, Janae Condit, Ed Sudzina, Tim Coffin, Stephanie Bingham and Sheryl Bone, who served in new and different ways from what they signed up for in May of last year," she said. "We also couldn't have done it without our ongoing partnership with Eastern Michigan University's Forensics and Teacher Education programs, which provided extra training for judges.

"A big shoutout also to our assistant forensics coach at the middle school, Meredith Scott, and assistant debate coach at the upper school, Mark Roberts. A special thanks also to Kelly Simon, one of our middle school teachers, for being flexible enough to let all her seventh-grade students participate."

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at