After eight months of dedication and spending her entire junior year preparing, Adrian Ambam received the highest honor a high school student can at the National Speech and Debate contest.
Ambam was crowned June 20 the National Champion in the Original Oratory contest for the National Forensics League. In order to qualify for nationals, one must place in the top 10 percent of their district. From there, it goes to a series of rounds beginning with 250 contestants and dwindling down the final six.
When it came down to the final six, Ambam was chosen by the judges as the overall winner with her speech, “America Minus the Dream.”
Ambam was compelled to write her speech on equality because she felt it was an important topic; however, she wanted to take a different spin on it.
“I use an overarching metaphor using math and applying it to equality in society,” Ambam said. “I talk about the Transitive Property of Equality, which basically states that if ‘A’ equals ‘B’ and ‘B’ equal ‘C’, then ‘A’ equals ‘C’. I thought it was a really important topic and I thought it was a really cool way to talk about it by using math and that it would open people’s eyes to why it is important and it wouldn’t be the same redundant thing.”
Even weeks after the tournament, Ambam admits she still cannot believe the results.
“It is insane,” Ambam said. “You watch videos all year long and it almost doesn’t seem real or possible. Every time you make it farther in the competition it’s crazy. When they dropped the poster and I saw my name on it, it was like a dream. You always make jokes like, ‘What if you make it on the national stage?’ and I actually did. It’s really surreal.”
Ambam said she owes her success to one individual, her coach Todd Schnake.
“He was the ideal coach. The thing about Mr. Schanke is he isn’t only a speech guy but hes a sports guy. He’ll tell you what you need to do. He’s not going to sugar coat anything, but he’ll sit down and encourage you. That week before n he would change things or we would sit down and ask queaitons and talk about it. He’s always been there to support me and en I’m really glad I could get that for him because I know that’s something he’s always wanted. Mr. Schnake is the ideal coach,” Ambam said. “He isn’t only a speech guy, but he’s a sports guy and he’ll tell you what you need to do. He isn’t going to sugar coat anything, but he’ll sit down and encourage you. The week before Nationals we would sit down and talk about my speech and make changes. He’s always been there to support me and encourage me. I’m really like that I could get that National Championship for him because I know that’s something he’s always wanted.”
Ambam is the first of the high school students to receive a national title, though Raymore-Pecuilar Middle School has received two past titles, one being Schnake’s son five years ago. The other was a duo the following year.
Schnake agrees with Ambam and says that having a student as a champion is a dream come true.
“It’s the kind of thing that, as a high school coach, you don’t ever expect to occur,” Schnake said. “We have a very successful team and we always do well in state, but you always figure nationals are a long shot because it’s so prestigious. It’s something you dream about, certainly, and it’s a highlight to a coaching career and the vast majority of people don’t ever do that so it was a very exciting thing.”