Whiz Kid: Omar Gouda
Whiz Kid’s Age: 16
Whiz Kid’s Accomplishments:
Omar Gouda was a freshman when members of the Pelham Memorial High School Forensics Speech Team recruited him into their organization after seeing him audition for a school play. Once Omar participated in his first tournament, his love for oration was solidified.
Omar participates in the National Forensics League, a speech and debate honors society that has been around since 1925. The NFL has many different events ranging from a congressional debate (similar to Model U.N.) to prose and poetry readings. Omar’s specialty is Original Oratory. This event involves researching and writing a speech on a topic of the student’s choice. The contestant is judged “solely on the effectiveness of development and presentation” according to the NFL website.
In his first year competing, Omar took first place in New York City and New York State tournaments, and reached the final round of the national championship in the freshman and sophomore beginner category. During his sophomore year, Omar won the Columbia University tournament and was New York State Champion. He was also ranked in the top 48 in the national competition.
Whiz Kid’s Key To Success:
Omar’s dedication to his craft is obvious. This entire week he has been competing in Dallas, Texas at the 2011 National Forensic League National Tournament. The days are long and grueling, beginning early morning and lasting well into the early evening. However, Omar is thriving in the heat of competition. Even though he is missing finals right now, he feels it is worth it, and will take them when he returns to Pelham.
“I really like acting," Omar noted. "We only have two plays a year at school, and in the forensics league I sort of have 10 minutes on stage all to myself and I love that.”
The competitions start in September and go through June, giving Omar the "fix" he said he loves.
According to Omar, there are many necessary skills one must possess to do battle in the NFL. Participants have to feel comfortable enough to perform in front of a large audience, maintain eye contact with the entire panel of judges, exercise voice control, and execute the communication of a message, not just the regurgitation of words.
In addition to his accomplishments in the NFL, Omar is the president of the student body at PMHS and is a member of the drama club, Sock n Buskin. He's also dabbled in JV Tennis this year, which he said was “wonderful fun” .