By Tamas Mondovics

High school students from all over Florida competed last month in the Florida State Championship Tournament of the National Forensic League (NFL) Speech and Debate Honor Society at Berkley Prep in Tampa.

Victoria Royal of Lithia, a Newsome High School senior, won the tournament and will represent the State and her school at NFL’s national tournament in Birmingham, Alabama this month as she will compete in the Lincoln Douglas style of debate with more than $250,000 in college scholarships to be awarded.

Lincoln Douglas, or LD, is a one-on-one debate style that focuses on philosophy and morality, named after the seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their 1858 race for the Illinois State Senate.

As a recent competitive debate team member, Royal’s talent came to the fore- front during her first debate followed by the winning of multiple debates over the past four months.

Debate styles include public forum, student congress, extemporaneous speaking as well as the Lincoln Douglas, while the speech category sports the dramatic interpretation, prose-poetry reading, duo interpretation, domestic extemporaneous speaking, international extemporaneous speaking, original oratory, oratorical interpretation and impromptu speaking.

Royal gives credit for her success to her coach, Robin Emery, whom she says provided the needed inspiration to get involved.

“Last semester I was assigned to Ms. Emery’s speech class and she suggested I join the debate team,” Royal said. “She thought I would enjoy the fast-paced and intellectually demanding format of LD. I owe my success to her encouragement and guidance.”

Royal also enjoys music and plays several instruments in the Newsome Marching Band and Wind Ensemble and will attend USF in the fall as a pre-med major. Royal is pleased to be among other winners including fellow students Chris and Sean Taylor who also won FL State championships in the duo interpretation speech competition. For more info, visit


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