FRONTENAC — After competing weekend after weekend, Frontenac High School freshman Kennedy Allen and Hannah Eckstein qualified for the National Speech and Debate Championships.

The two may be among the very first to qualify for the National Speech and Debate Championships their coach Angella Curran said.

“They are both freshman which is both awesome for their age and level,” she said. “They have worked so hard to accomplish qualifying for nationals.”

Kennedy placed eighth in the South Kansas District Congress which made her an alternate to the National Championship and Hannah placed second in oratory and third in informative speaking at the South Kansas District Individual Events tournament at Pittsburg High School.

This automatically qualified her for nationals in oratory and made her the first alternate in informative.  

To “expand her horizons” Kennedy joined debate and forensics. She was also inspired by a character from “Gilmore Girls.”

“I was really shy and soft spoken … now I have confidence and I’m not as anxious when talking in front of people in the classroom or in front of an audience,” she said.  

During the congressional debate in senate, which qualified her for nationals, Kennedy brought a bill to the table about legalizing assisted suicide and a resolution about the banning of puppy mills.

She also presented her interpretation of “Silence is Golden” by Ellen Degeneres.

“It’s like funny acting,” Hannah said chiming in.

Hannah has been in debate and forensics since seventh grade following in her mother’s footstep.

“My mom was it in high school and she always told me really fun stories of all the things she’s done and she has won,” she said. “My mom is pretty awesome and so I did it.”

Hannah’s national qualifier was in informative speaking. The speech was about cell phone addiction.

“It’s a hard hitter for many people,” she said.

She also presented a prose of a fictitious piece documenting the Joplin tornado as historical fiction.

In June the students will head out to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the week-long competition. To help relieve some of the costs of traveling to Florida by visiting the website

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.