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Local 2nd in national contest

By Ned Seaton

Manhattan’s Linda Pei took second place late last week at the national championships in extemporaneous speaking on international topics.

Pei, a 2012 graduate of Manhattan High School, competed in Indianapolis by qualifying for the championships of the National Forensics League. Approximately 250 competitors qualified for nationals from across the country.

During a week of competition, Pei made it to Friday’s final round along with five other competitors. Her second-place finish was a result of cumulative scoring from the entire week, according to MHS forensics coach Shawn Rafferty.

In extemporaneous speaking, competitors randomly draw topics and have approximately a half-hour to prepare a speech that they give without notes. In the final round, Pei addressed the question: Is political Islam incompatible with democracy? To watch her speech, go to

Pei earlier this spring won the state 6A championship in Kansas in both international extemporaneous speaking and informative speech. She won both categories in both her senior and junior years.

Rafferty said Pei will be named an all-American – one of the top 25 in the country out of all the students who participate in debate and forensics – this summer.

Pei plans to attend Northwestern University in the fall and participate in debate.

Her second-place finish is the highest at the forensics national meet by an MHS student since 1986, when Laurie Reese won the poetry reading category. Evan Williams was named the most outstanding senator in Student Congress in 1983, and Margaret Grayden won the girls’ extemporaneous speaking category in 1979.

Five other members of the MHS forensics team also qualified for nationals this spring and competed in Indianapolis:  Brodie Herrman, Lucy Liu, Flora Riley, Jake Seaton and Kaeli Wefald. Herrman was a semifinalist in the House (Student Congress) and Seaton was a quarterfinalist in oratorical speaking.

Pei qualified for nationals in forensics three years and in debate once.

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