Chelmsford High’s Sophia Roy to compete in three national competitive speaking finals

CHELMSFORD, Massachusetts (April 10, 2024) – Junior Sophia Roy is quickly becoming one of the most decorated Speech and Debate team members ever at Chelmsford High School.

In the coming weeks, she will be competing in three different national finals for competitive speaking in hopes of adding to her resume.

Before going on the national circuit, Ms. Roy took part in the Massachusetts Speech & Debate League’s State Speech & Congress Tournament on Saturday, April 6. She participated in the Original Oratory and Informative Speaking events, placing first in Oratory.

Ms. Roy said she found her passion for competitive speaking after taking the Speech and Debate class her freshman year and participating in informative speaking events.

“It’s where you write your own speech and make visual aids,” she said. “I got third at states that year.”

Though she has competed in other events, Ms. Roy said, over the years, informative speaking has become her favorite.

“I don’t know what it is about it, but it just brings out a happiness in me,” she said. “Nothing else has ever made me happy like that. Info just has a really special place in my heart.”

After attending the Yale Debate Association’s Yale Invitational as a sophomore, Ms. Roy said she realized she had a lot of potential, and began tackling more serious topics for her informative speeches.

Taking on the topic of the organ shortage crisis in America, Ms. Roy was awarded the state championship her sophomore year.

This year, Ms. Roy has selected racism in the makeup industry as her topic for informative speaking, and “bikini medicine” as her topic for original oratory.

“She does a lot of deep dives into the events and the topics,” said Peter Zopes, long-time social sciences educator and Speech and Debate Club advisor at CHS. “She takes full advantage of the resources available.”

Mr. Zopes applauded Ms. Roy for her dedication to competitive speaking, honing her craft and going the extra mile by participating in multiple tournaments.

“The commitment to do that really is staggering in my mind,” he said, noting the composure one must have to get up and speak in front of an audience. “It takes a great deal of drive and professionalism.”

Going national

During the course of this academic year, Ms. Roy earned bids and qualified for three national finals.

First up is the JW Patterson Tournament of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky, April 20-22, where Ms. Roy will be competing in the Original Oratory and Informative Speaking events.

After that, Ms. Roy will head to Chicago for the National Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament on May 25 and 26; there, she will be competing in the Original Oratory event.

Finally, Ms. Roy will compete in the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, June 16-21. She qualified for both Informative Speaking and Original Oratory, but because students can only compete in one event, she chose Informative Speaking.

Much like an athlete, Ms. Roy said she does a series of things to prepare for an event, including face, mouth and body warmups that help her feel present while onstage.

“And I have a speech playlist that I listen to,” she said. “I dance around to help me warm up.”

In addition to the Speech and Debate team, Ms. Roy is also president of the TedEd Club and co-president of the award-winning a cappella group The Thursdays. She’s also a member of the CHS Women in STEM club and makes speech and debate resources for Equality in Forensics, a student-run non-profit organization.

“I wouldn’t be the president of all these clubs, I wouldn’t be as smart as I am now [without speech and debate],” she said. “The college that I’m going to get into … it’s going to be because of speech and debate.”

After graduating next spring, Ms. Roy said she plans to attend college to double-major in neuroscience and English, and eventually attend medical school. She currently has her sights set on Cornell University.

“They have a speech and debate team,” she said. “And I want to continue with speech and debate.”

About Chelmsford Public Schools

The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit