Sophie Hathaway ’18 will travel to Sydney, Australia next spring as part of the U.S. Team at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship. Dr. Paul Bassett, head coach of the Stoneleigh-Burnham Debate and Public Speaking Society, made the announcement at a recent Housemeeting, surprising Sophie and the SBS community.
Sophie qualified for the world competition, to be held in April 2017, after competing at the International Independent School Public Speaking League tournament in West Vancouver, B.C., Canada in October 2016. At that tournament, Sophie made the finals in Dramatic Interpretation. Read more about that competition here.
Sophie is a member of the SBS Debate and Public Speaking Society. She is a day student from Greenfield, Mass., who has attended Stoneleigh-Burnham since 7th grade. She said her rhetoric teachers Dr. Bassett and Cyndee Meese saw her potential as a debater and public speaker when she was in 8th grade and have motivated her to step out of her comfort zone to achieve success. She also credits her teammates, noting that they all sat directly in front of her in the front row during her Dramatic Interpretation finals in Vancouver.
“It helps so much to be surrounded by a bunch of awesome strong women,” Sophie said.
She added, “If someone wants to try public speaking or debate, I would tell them to start small. I would encourage them to try something every day that makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable, whether it’s speaking out in class more often or just trying something new. Then, you can move through that to try the next thing.”
Sophie joins an elite group of world competitors from Stoneleigh-Burnham School dating back to 1988. She is the 16th student to compete. Last year was the first time in Stoneleigh-Burnham’s 150-year history that two students qualified to compete at in the world championship, which was held in Pittsburgh. One of those students competed in the world competitions two years in a row, including in Hong Kong in 2015. Read about last year’s world competition here. See the full list of SBS world debate competitors here.