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Austin-East students qualify for nationals in speech and debate competition

Austin-East Magnet High School theater students will soon compete against students across the U.S.
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 7:45 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Austin-East Magnet High School theater students will soon compete against students across the U.S.

Four of them qualified for nationals in the National Speech and Debate Association speech, a first in school history.

“We really put in the hard work this year and are trying to win it all,” said LoRen Seagrave, a senior.

LoRen Seagrave has been acting since middle school.

“It’s just great because it’s challenging and it’s fun,” said LoRen Seagrave.

He and his younger brother, Ryan Seagrave, won first place in the duo interpretation category, qualifying them for nationals.

Ryan Seagrave said, “It’s been a wonderful time. Alongside my brother it’s been very exciting and very cool.”

They acted out a piece called “Sticks and Stones.”

“Our piece is very serious, but it has a lot of very important topics,” said Ryan Seagrave, a sophomore.

It touched on racism and police brutality. There are ties to news happening across the country and here affecting the Austin-East community.

“During the whole entire piece you’re one moment rooting for this character, one moment rooting for this character and at the end they’re just both horrible people,” said LoRen Seagrave.

Their brotherly bond allowed them to practice day and night.

“It’s been really good since we’re brothers we like to bicker a lot,” laughed LoRen Seagrave.

They have to perform without facing or touching each other.

Another duo from A-E also qualified for the national competition when they placed third in the same category.

“I just love acting in general because it gives you this other reality, an escape almost,” said Jackson Ahern, a senior.

“Acting is so much fun. I love it,” said Rory Longmire, a senior.

Ahern and Longmire performed a romantic comedy where we follow kids growing up and falling in love.

Ahern said, “It feels very satisfying to play someone else whose completely not you.”

The students were grateful for their teacher and how this can help their futures.

“Austin-East has helped me become a better actor because of the program they have with speech and debate because you have a lot of hands on time with the instructor,” explained LoRen Seagrave.

Because of COVID-19 students recorded their pieces this year and submitted them digitally.

The competition will be held virtually in June.

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