South Washington County Schools

Woodbury High School student named National Champion in Informative Speaking

WHS National Speech Tournament

A recent graduate of Woodbury High School, Lily Neumann-Drenth, earned first place in the Informative Speech category at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Florida held between June 17-22. Ten other students from Woodbury and East Ridge High School qualified to take part in the national event. Both teams were also recognized as being two of the top 40 speech programs in the country.

This was the first year that Woodbury High School qualified for the national speech tournament. Six students, including Neumann-Drenth, qualified in five different events. Recent graduate Njeri Waititu and rising senior Lily Pieper made it to the top 14 competitors in their event. Annie Ward, a rising senior, made it to the top 30 competitors in her event, while rising senior Nadia Franzen and recent graduate Stephanie Zhang made it to the top 60 competitors in their events.

As a team, Woodbury was named a National Speech School of Excellence, which means it is one of the top 20 speech programs in the country.

Suzanne White, Woodbury High School Speech coach, said of the experience, “We felt honored just to have the opportunity to attend the national tournament. We had no idea that we would be coming home as a school of excellence and with a national champion. Our students worked so hard to get to this tournament and it was amazing to see all of their work pay off.”

East Ridge High School also performed well at the national event with recent graduate Tre’ Edgerton earning fifth place in Program Oral Interpretation. This was the third year Edgerton was a national finalist. Alex Yang, who also recently graduated, finished in the top 11 for Extemporaneous Debate. Recent graduate Tony May finished in the top 60 in Humor, and rising seniors Michelle Lu and KV Do also took part in the national event.

As a team, East Ridge was named a National Speech School of Honor, which means it is one of the top 21-40 speech programs in the country.

East Ridge Coach Katie Carlson said, “Our coaching staff is incredibly proud of these outstanding individuals and, more importantly, how these young people represented their team, school and community. The creativity, passion and diligence that comes out of these kids astounds us year after year.”

White continued, “We feel lucky that we got to share the experience with our friends at East Ridge. We got to see one of their students perform in the final round and all sat together at the awards. We love that our two teams uplift and collaborate with one another.”

Pictured (L to R): Woodbury students Jaylin Tuman, Annie Ward, Nadia Franzen, Lily Neumann-Drenth, Njeri Waititu, Lily Pieper and Stephanie Zhang.