Long after the 2:48 p.m. dismissal bell, and even after the athletes and other members of the student body have left campus, it’s not uncommon to see Eric Jeraci’s speech and debate students at Royal Palm Beach High School on campus until 9 p.m. preparing for an upcoming debate tournament.
Because of his students’ relentless pursuit of perfection, the National Forensic League has placed the speech and debate club in the prestigious 100 Club. Organizations with this honor accrued at least 100 degrees last year, which is based on performance and membership, and only the top 10 percent of NFL chapters earn this distinction. Since the inception of the 100 Club in 2007-08 school year, RPBHS has achieved the honor four years in a row.
Jeraci said that he is very proud of his students. Although they often go against schools with more resources and coaches, he is thrilled at how his students have performed, exceeding expectations of the judges and even themselves in many cases.
“Just to make it to the finals is a huge deal,” said Jeraci, who is only in his third year of teaching and coaching the team. “My students always strive to do their best.”
It’s a major sacrifice for both him and his students, but the many awards and recognitions Jeraci has racked up over the years is proof positive that they have bought into his philosophy in doing whatever it takes to be a consummate orator.
“It’s repetition,” said senior Anthony Nadeau, who is the president of the Speech and Debate Club. “You do it over and over again until it’s perfect. Well, it’s never perfect because there’s always something you can do better.”
Principal Jesus Armas could not be more pleased. “We are very proud of Mr. Jeraci and our debate program,” he said. “Our debate students are great examples of Royal Palm Beach High School students furthering the school’s vision of excellence.”
The National Forensic League was formed in 1925 to help high school and middle school students improve their speech and debate skills by focusing on the areas of critical thinking, listening and research.
According to the NFL’s web site, former members include Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito; actor Brad Pitt; actress Renee Zellweger; and television personality Stephen Colbert.