District News ➤ Article 325
Thumbnail Image for Article 325Andover High School graduate named national oratory champion
Posted Date: 06/24/2015

Kenon Brinkley, a 2015 graduate of Andover High School, surpassed 248 other competitors to be named the national champion in original oratory event at the 2015 National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament. The tournament took place June 14-19 in Dallas. For the original oratory event, students must write and memorize 10-minute persuasive speeches.

The focus of Brinkley’s speech was the impact of shame in society. He examined this issue and how it plays a role in victim blaming in sexual assaults and police brutality and in transphobia and the death of Leelah Alcorn. Brinkley also shared how racism has affected him. He encouraged his audience to speak up when being shamed and follow the guidance of shame expert Brene Brown. The timeliness of Brinkley’s topic and his willingness to share his personal story resonated with the audience.

"I really just wanted to reach people, and it feels like I did," said Brinkley. "What more does anybody want than to leave an impactful impression through their expression?”

“I am so proud of the work that Kenon put in,” said Brinkley’s coach, James Harris. “He graduated a month ago and yet he was driven enough to keep working to reach his goal.”

In addition to winning the original oratory national champion title and trophy, Brinkley received a $2,000 scholarship from the Patrick Henry Memorial Auxiliary, which sponsored the original oratory event.

Brinkley qualifed for the national tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, he made it to the semifinal round and placed 10th overall. He also won the KSHSAA 5A state championship this year and last year. He was also second in impromptu speaking at state this year.

Although Brinkley is the fourth original oratory national champion from Kansas, he is the first person from the Wichita area to win the event. Past winners of this event include Emmy Award winning actress Shelly Long and Tony award nominated actor Josh Gad.

The National Speech and Debate Association is the largest speech and debate organization for middle school, high school, and collegiate students in the United States. The association provides competitive speech and debate activities, high-quality resources, comprehensive training, scholarship opportunities, and recognition to more than 150,000 students and coaches every year.

Each year, the National Speech and Debate Association hosts the National Speech and Debate Tournament. The tournament is considered the world’s largest academic competition. Students who qualify by placing among the top competitors at the district tournaments compete in speech and debate events for college scholarships.

Brinkley has been offered a scholarship to attend Western Kentucky University and compete on the university forensics team.