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Milton’s Upper School Speech Team had a strong start to the school year at the Gracia Burkhill Memorial Tournament at Natick High School. Senior Alexandra Upton earned first place in Dramatic Performance for her new piece, titled “Blonde Poison.” Alexandra worked on the 10-minute performance over the summer, in which she plays Stella Goldschlag, a German Jewish woman who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, turning in underground Jews in order to save her own family.

“I thought her story was incredibly interesting, because she was a real person, with many layers to her,” said Alexandra, who first performed this piece earlier this year at the Yale Invitational. “She did something that was despicable, but it was to save lives of people she loved. It is easy to condemn her, but I think about what would I have done? I also think the topic is relevant to current events, which I address in my intro to the piece.”

Senior Soleil Devonish earned second place in Poetry Reading for her piece—a collage of different poems addressing police brutality, particularly “talking about how black boys are tried as adults 18 times more frequently than their white counterparts.” It was her first time performing this work. Soleil said she didn’t have as much time to prepare as usual because of the busy start to senior year, but, “I was pulling something together I am passionate about and this one came together pretty naturally and super fast. I was surprised with second place, but it was really cool.”

Both Alexandra and Soleil said one of their favorite aspects of Speech Team is helping coach the Middle School speech team, where they both got their start. In addition to Alexandra and Soleil, several team members were recognized at the tournament:

Ranked first in a round

Maya Bokhari
Alexandra Upton
Lyndsey Mugford
Jun Seob Shim
Charlotte Moremen
Jana Amin
Miranda Paiz
Abby Foster
Soleil Devonish
Elaine Wu


Semi-finalist — Maya Bokhari

Dramatic Performance

1st place — Alexandra Upton

Group Discussion

5th place — Charlotte Moremen

Novice Extemporaneous Speaking

5th place — Jana Amin

Poetry Reading

2nd place — Soleil
5th place — Abby Foster

Prose Reading

5th place — Ginny Barrett
Semi-finalist — Abby Foster
Honorable mention — Elaine Wu