ETCETERA - Wa-Hi debate team makes ‘great showing' 1st time at state


‘I think it was a great showing for our first year of competition," said coach Jean Tobin about her Walla Walla High School students' efforts at the state debate tournament. "They had a wonderful time, learned a lot and had more success than I had hoped for given their lack of experience."

On March 13, for the first time in recent memory Jean said, Wa-Hi students attended and competed in the tournament held in Tacoma at the University of Puget Sound.

Twenty-nine 4A schools, 24 3A schools and several hundred competitors attended. The tournament focused on individual events and Wa-Hi students competed in four of the eight events offered: expository speaking, original oratory, interpretative reading, and impromptu speaking.

Seven students from Wa-Hi earned the opportunity to attend: Machado Mijiga, sophomore, Bryan Preston, freshman, Maddie Bronstein, freshman, Hope Grant-Herriot, freshman, Rosa Tobin, freshman, Carrie Moore, freshman and Calvin Brigham, freshman.

Students competed in three preliminary rounds in the 4A school division. Although none of Wa-Hi's competitors made it to the finals rounds, three students had strong showings overall: Hope, Rosa and Maddie.

Hope has had a strong season, consistently earning top honors at tournaments, Jean said. "She continued her amazing performance, earning high marks in every round, and narrowly missing the finals round by one point in interpretive reading." Her marks in the preliminary rounds tied her for seventh place.

Rosa competed in original oratory, an event in which students present a 10-minute memorized persuasive essay, and her scores in the preliminary rounds placed her in a tie for 12th place overall. Rosa's essay advocated for the repeal of federal laws against the use of medical marijuana.

Maddie had a strong showing in impromptu, in which students are given a quotation, think for a fleeting moment, then speak for five minutes explaining their interpretation of the quotation. Her preliminary marks also tied her for 12th place in the event.

All members of the team appreciated the opportunity to attend. "This was a real learning opportunity for us," Jean said. "We are a team of novices - most other teams have senior competitors to set an example for the younger students. We were learning as we went along this season. It was unusual to have sophomores and freshmen competing at State - most of the other competitors were juniors and seniors from established programs. Like any other activity worth doing, it is not easy to be successful as a beginner - it takes time and effort. We have time and these students are very willing to work hard to achieve their goals. I know we will have even more success in the future."

The students appreciate the support of the many community members involved in helping them start the program this year.

Calvin and Maddie returned to UPS March 19-20 to compete in the State Lincoln-Douglas Debate Competition. They will be debating the principle of jury nullification.


Walla Walla firefighter Shawn Ongers was the top local competitor at the 19th annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle. The climb to the 73rd floor of Seattle's tallest building on March 7 is recognized as the largest individual firefighter competition in the world and benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Ongers, 36, of Walla Walla, scaled 69 stories - 1,311 steps of Seattle's tallest building in 13:39.85 to finish 16th among 1,555 firefighters from 24 states, Canada, Germany and New Zealand. He was among three local firefighters to crack to top 100 in the event.

Other top local finishers included Phil Tonn, 35, of WWFD 4 who finished 52nd and Peter Berg, 41, of the WWFD, who finished 62nd. Phil clocked 14:50.15 while Berg finished in 15:00.50. Fourteen firefighters from the WWFD and WWFD 4 competed in the event, including also: Anthony Spada, 34, WWFD, 16:19.20; Paul Henline, 30, WWFD, 17:31.05; Tony McGuire, 35, WWFD 4, 17:54.00; Ross Beier, 23, WWFD 4, 17:59.75; Bryan McIntire, 30, WWFD, 18:54.05; Rocky Eastman, 41, WWFD 4, 19:09.75; and Raul Marroquin, 32, WWFD, 20:04.00.

The overall title was won for the second consecutive year by Montana firefighter Kory Burgess, 28. He clocked the second fastest time in the 19-year history of the event, falling just 5.6 seconds short of his 2009 record. The women's climb was won for the 12th time by Georgia Sans Daniels of Graham Fire and Rescue in Washington state. Daniels, 42, who clocked a 14:51.90 on the Columbia Center steps, has won the event in 12 of the last 13 years, missing only the 2008 climb to celebrate her 40th birthday. Clad in full bunker gear and breathing apparatus that weighs about 50 pounds, firefighters ranging from 18 to 68 years, sprint-climbed 788 feet in vertical elevation from the Fifth Avenue lobby to the 73rd floor observation deck of the 76-story skyscraper. At 943 feet, about 11/2 times the height of Seattle's Space Needle, the Columbia Center is the tallest building by stories on the West Coast and the 57th tallest building in the world.

Firefighters from the 256 competing departments raised more than $500,000 as of March 8 and there were three weeks left. In 2009, the event raised $640,000 and has tallied $2.7 million since its inception in 1982.

On March 21 the public tackled the same Columbia Center steps at the 24th annual Big Climb, which also benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. For more details about the Big Climb, visit


Walla Walla High School seniors Dan Lockart and Samantha Herriot and juniors Natalie Ingersoll-Allen and Kolton Kolbaba were among students who participated in the All-Northwest Choir March 10-13 in Seattle.

The students, who hailed from Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, were selected by taped audition, said Norbert Rossi, director of choral activities at Wa-Hi.

There were about 150 singers in the women's choir and about 130 in the men's choir who were in 10th-12th grades.

Guest conductors were from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Dr. Timothy and Sandra Peters. Students rehearsed from the evening of March 10 evening through the morning of March 13 and performed in downtown Seattle at the First Presbyterian Church that afternoon.

Norb saw the Phoenix Chorale - "phenomenal" and the Soweto South Africa Gospel Choir in concert March 13. "What a contrast in styles. Both equally extraordinary," he e-mailed.

He also saw the "Crystal Children's Choir" from San Francisco. "They are youngsters of Chinese-American ethnicity who are just beyond words. What a performance. Great singing."


Gov. Chris Gregoire selected Walla Wallan Don Schack, chaplain and member of AMVETS Post 1111 and the American Legion, to serve on the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee.

The committee acts as the governor's advisory board in conveying issues of concern and interest to veterans throughout Washington state and advising the Washington state Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is comprised of veterans recommended by and representing veterans service organizations. Don made application and was recommended by David Harris, state commander of AMVETS.

John Lee, director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, presented Don with his appointment letter on March 23 at the monthly meeting of the Walla Walla Veterans Affairs Community Task Force in the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


McLoughlin High School's Jazz Ensemble and Central Middle School Jazz Band returned from the 39th annual Clackamas Community College Jazz Festival March 12 with a second-place trophy and seven outstanding soloist awards, said band director Mike Agidius.

More than 40 high school and middle school jazz bands from around Oregon and Washington attended the festival. Mac-Hi Jazz Ensemble members receiving outstanding soloist certificates were senior drummer Jon Bird; junior trumpeter Cody Gray; sophomore saxophonist/clarinetist Lucas Simpson; and freshman baritone saxophonist MyKaila Shakespeare.

Outstanding soloist certificates went to Central Middle School Jazz Band members Caitlin Vaughan, Jacob Chaney and Braden Cunnington, saxophonists.

Mac-Hi Jazz Ensemble performed three pieces in competition, including a Woody Herman professional transcription of Duke Ellingtons' famous "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford," featuring Cody Gray on trumpet and Maynard Ferguson's "Gospel John."

Central Jazz Band also performed three pieces in competition including "Night Train," My Funny Valentine" and "Malaguena.


Christina Swanson, a 14-year-old Walla Walla High School freshman, plans to visit the British Isles this summer as a student ambassador with People to People.

She is among a select few students invited to apply and is currently working to raise the $7,000 required to participate. The group, which promotes international understanding and builds leadership skills among American youth, expects to visit England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Christina plans to prepare a power point presentation to give upon her return. For more details or to contribute to Christina's experience, contact her at 522-8443 or write her at 407 Fredrickson Road, Touchet, WA, 99360.


Lincoln Alternative High School's Phoenix Dance Vibe team members performed recently for residents at the Washington Odd Fellows Home. The dancers then mingled with residents afterward.

Jeremy Gradwohl is program director for "The Lift," Lincoln's after-school programs, of which the dance group is one.

"I just thought it was so touching," said Katherine Rowlette, Phoenix Dance Vibe's team coach. Some of the kids come from "backgrounds of struggle and challenge, and to see them in such a touching way, giving back to the community, is awesome."

Katherine's daughters, Lacy and Tonde Rowlette, are choreographers.

Lincoln Phoenix Dance Vibe performed three different routines at the Odd Fellows. They were asked to repeat the noted favorite, "Wooly Bully." "The girls did a wonderful job and visited with the residents afterwards," Katherine said.

Lisa Wolf, Odd Fellows activities director, invited the team to return for more scheduled performances.

Lincoln Phoenix Dance Vibe also showcased a new routine at a recent Lincoln assembly.

Kira Louise Hendricksen of Dayton made Seattle Pacific University's 2009 autumn quarter dean's list. Students on the list completed at least 12 credits and attained a 3.50 or higher gpa.

Founded in 1891, SPU is a Christian university with a comprehensive academic program that serves 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.

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