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Press Release

Wheeling Park Speech and Debate Program recognized for winning legacy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – During an awards ceremony held this week in Wheeling, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II recognized the Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Program for its longstanding tradition of excellence in academic achievement and its dedication to the personal and professional development of local students.

Nearly four decades ago, Frances Schoolcraft, then a teacher at Triadelphia High School, cultivated a group of students that excelled in academics, leadership, and public speaking. That group would evolve to become the Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Program. Schoolcraft led the program for twenty-five years and sparked a tradition of excellence. The program has won 224 tournaments and earned the West Virginia State Speech and Debate Tournament championship every year since 1980.

The Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Program has developed into a true dynasty. This year’s team was undefeated, winning nine tournaments throughout West Virginia and Pennsylvania. As a crowning achievement to a dominant season, the program earned its thirty-seventh consecutive state championship. Under the visionary leadership of Frances Schoolcraft, the program claimed twenty-five consecutive state titles. Wheeling Park High School teacher William Cornforth has continued to build the program’s legacy, winning another twelve successive state championships.

Alumni of the program have gone on to take center stage under the bright lights of Broadway, pursue Ivy League educations, appear on nationally recognized television programs, and become exemplary leaders in communities across the country. Teams and individual competitors have also enjoyed success in national high school speech and debate competitions. Earning a spot on the Wheeling Park Speech and Debate Team has become such a coveted accomplishment that the program has implemented a competitive process to select students for the team. Forty-three students represented the program during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The United States Attorney’s Awards ceremony was held at the United States Courthouse in Wheeling on Monday. Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Program founder Frances Schoolcraft attended the ceremony and helped accept the award.

Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Program

Pictured from left to right: William J. Ihlenfeld, II, United States Attorney; Dianna Vargo, Superintendent of Ohio County Schools; Amy Minch, Principal of Wheeling Park High School; Joshua Fromhart, Debate Coach and Teacher at Wheeling Park High School; Frances Schoolcraft, Founder and Former Coach of Speech and Debate Team at Wheeling Park High School; Philip Schwarz, Co-captain of Speech Team; Hannah Meredith, Co-captain of Speech Team; Danielle Kaminski, Co-captain of Debate Team; James Miller, III, Co-captain of Debate Team

Updated May 11, 2016

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