Finn Stenard

Leona Gagalac, Editor

Congratulations to Finn Stenard, one of the December/January Club Students of the Month! Speech and Debate is already an intensive club in itself, but Finn goes above and beyond for the organization. As a junior Debate Captain, he helps train novice debaters in the FTHS Forensics Team in preparation for various tournaments and events. Finn is celebrated for his drive and initiative, leading to a very deserving win. He sat down with the Patriot Press to discuss this achievement.

Congratulations for winning Club Student of the Month for Speech and Debate! How does it feel to be nominated by your advisor and winning?

– Thank you! It really feels surreal to even be nominated, let alone win. I’ve put my heart and soul into this activity and to see it be recognized is really rewarding.

What is your role in Forensics at FTHS? What event do you do?

– I am the debate coach of Forensics at FTHS. I mainly teach my own category which is Lincoln-Douglas debate. There are two styles, but LD – as we call it – is more philosophy based and more strategic. My main role is to balance teaching my own novices and leading them to success while also allocating time to sharpen my own skills. But mostly, I just try to be a role model for the novices to look up to.

What drew you to the club and what led to your leadership position today?

– Well, what led me to the club was honestly that I started annoying my family too much with always arguing with them. Then one day, they jokingly asked if there was a debate team I could express my energy in. And before you know, I was at the interest meeting for forensics. I immediately fell in love. Something about the competitive edge to it mixed with the community of hardworking individuals drew me in. Debate is a lot like chess and I kept coming back to the satisfying feeling of watching your strategy play out. So throughout the whole year I constantly annoyed my debate coach at the time to learn absolutely everything I could before she went off to college. I worked hours on practicing, drills, case writing, etc. And before I knew it, my coach at the time, Miles, called me and asked me if I wanted to be coach next year. I was ecstatic and immediately started on lesson plans to try and foster the same drive and passion in my new novices as I had.

What separates Forensics from other clubs and organizations at Township?

– The main thing that separates us is the work effort. Most other clubs you can just go to during lunch or after school and forget about it when you get home. However, on the forensics team, if you want to do well, you must put in the work. Not only that, but our community is incredibly close, all of the other board members are my best friends, and I genuinely see my team as family. They always know that if they need anything whatsoever, no matter the time of day, they can come to me. We are all hard-working but know how to have fun with each other which I think is the best combination.

Describe one of your favorite memories from Speech and Debate.

– My absolute favorite memory so far must be our competition at Harvard last year. Harvard is a national speech and debate tournament during February and my friends and I were all competing online because of Covid. We all worked tirelessly for months, having extra practices and meetings. But finally, when the day came and there was nothing else we could do, we just let loose and had fun. Each day, we all met at one of our houses to compete together. In between rounds we had food and we laughed and goofed around. The shared stressful and surreal moment we were in really made us come together and have fun. I ended up placing 24th out of 200 people in my division and I couldn’t have made that happen without the help of the amazing people around me.

Who inspires you to work hard in Forensics? Any current members or alumni?

– For the most part, my friends inspire me to keep working. Jordyn Rubman, Isabella Novera, Tyler Douglas, and Ferdinando Maiello. My whole friend group is all in speech and debate and seeing how hard they work, makes me motivated to work and vice versa. We all support each other and it’s great. They are my rock and I would not be where I am without each and every one of them.

That is so sweet! Considering how much this club has given to you and that you are a captain, what is a word of advice that you’d give a novice who might consider joining Forensics?

– My advice is to just try it. I’m not going to lie it is a lot of work. But the payoff is worth every ounce and more. You will make best friends, you will learn lessons about success and failure, and most importantly you will be a part of a community that is just as hard working and dedicated as you. So try it! We don’t bite!

Here’s what Mrs. Gittens, the Speech and Debate advisor, had to say about Finn:

“Finn is an amazing advocate for his teammates. Students in our club take an active role in instructing their peers in proper speech and debate skills. As Debate Captain, Finn mentors the novices directly. He is extremely eloquent and
thorough in his instruction – he’s a natural teacher! He oversees practice debates and gives constructive feedback when needed. I can tell that his peers really appreciate his mentorship, as they are very comfortable and on-task in his presence. In planning our Home Tournament, Finn also took on the role of reaching out directly to a local business to order our necessary trophies and medals – roughly 100 in total! Overall, Finn excels in our organization, and we are so lucky to have him on our team! He lifts everyone up around him.”

Finn’s reasons for recognition were:

  • Leadership
  • Dedication
  • Initiative