Courtesy of  JARED GRIFFIN

The Kodiak High School Shakesbears pose for a photo at the Dimond DDF Tournament over the weekend.  

Kodiak High School drama club students dominated at a drama, debate and forensics tournament in Anchorage over the weekend.

The club, known as the Shakesbears, competed against more than 200 students from around Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula at the Dimond Tournament, and walked away with five first-place awards, three second-place awards, two third-place awards, and three fourth-place awards.

The Kodiak team included 14 students, and sent more students to finals than any other school. Kodiak High School was one of 12 schools to send representatives to the competition. Last year was the first time the Shakesbears competed in the state drama, debate and forensics tournament, with immediate success. Shakesbears coach Jared Griffin said students hope to build on last year’s success, with this tournament serving as an auspicious beginning.

“We’ve added four new competitors to the team this year. The veterans are taking the new ones under their wing and giving them encouragement and advice,” Griffin said, adding that the more experienced competitors are more nervous and anxious about the feedback they get from judges.

“Last year it was more of a fun thing, but we kept winning, so now they have really high expectations of themselves. So far, they’ve been able to meet those expectations, but there’s a little more anxiety.”

Sara Scott, a freshman and first-time competitor, earned first place in extemporaneous commentary, a category that requires students to perform an improvised five-minute speech. Forty students competed in the category.

Felix Lewis, a senior, earned first place in humorous interpretation. He is the defending state champion in the category. Kodiak junior Alli Hartt earned second place and Kodiak junior Acacia Birbilas earned third place, sweeping the category.

Lewis and Birbilas tied for first place in the dramatic interpretation category. Kodiak junior Maryssa Abston earned fourth place in the category.

Birbilas and Wetherleigh Griffin, a senior, earned first place in duo interpretation. Griffin also earned second place in solo acting. Audry Lonheim (sophomore) and Krista Simpler (junior) earned fourth place in the duo interpretation category.

A Kodiak team earned second place in the readers theatre category. The team included Krista Simpler (junior), Audrey Lonheim (sophomore), Sara Scott (freshman), Gracie Thomas (junior), and Maryssa Abston (junior). Another Kodiak team earned third place in the category, featuring Birbilas and Lewis. An additional Kodiak team earned fourth place, featuring Julianna Jones (junior), Derek Rocheleau (senior), Alli Hartt (junior), Tayla Eaton (senior), and Serabella Jones (senior).

Griffin said the tournament results will help determine which students compete in the state competition. Before then, the Kodiak thespians will have the opportunity to implement the judges’ commentary and compete again in Anchorage. 

“We have a few weeks to learn from judges’ commentary and get better,” he said. “A lot of the feedback we got was about sharpening our physicality.”

Preparation also will include mindfulness exercises to ease the nerves and anxiety that come before competition.

The Shakesbears will compete next at Service High DDF tournament on Jan. 31, and then at the state competition in Juneau on Feb. 13.


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