Justin & Gen: A Tribute to the Senior MSD Duo

Exploring the journeys and contributions of Justin Fusilero and Genevieve Mckenzie, two senior members of Mitty Speech and Debate

For Seniors Genevieve Mckenzie and Justin Fusilero, speech and debate is an outlet to express themselves and explore their passions. This iconic duo began their speech and debate journeys in freshman year with a little encouragement from upperclassmen and their peers. Since then, their enthusiasm for the activity has only continued to grow. They met during a speech and debate orientation known as MSD Day and quickly became friends. Soon enough, friends transformed into partners for duo interpretation, a speech event in which two students perform a piece from a movie, book or other types of media.

Despite being fully suited up and composed for tournaments, the behind-the-scenes is a concoction of chaos that somehow is just right. The duo spends a lot of time in Justin’s garage simply spitballing ideas to try and test. Justin describes this as “cohesive randomness” because regardless of the crazy process, it eventually comes together with a little faith and a lot of help from coaches. Both performers have explained how rewarding it is to watch their pieces transformed into something better every time, and let their voices shine through. Even though the activity was somewhat out of their comfort zone, they persisted, and it slowly became something that morphed into a hobby, the birthplace of lasting friendships, and fuel for future plans. Gen elaborates on her passions saying, “I love the feeling of performing and blocking my own materials. Taking someone else’s work and incorporating aspects of me and my character into it has been so fulfilling and receiving feedback from audiences makes it all that much more worth it.”

“The individuals on the team lay the foundation for pillars of friendship, growth, character, and success to be built. Sometimes, it can be difficult to ask for help from teammates, but the act of simply reaching out can be monumental”

— Justin Fusilero

Currently, their piece “Click” focuses on the importance of enjoying the present, because nothing lasts forever. The duo has spent countless hours elevating their pieces, and constantly making changes. They experimented with different ways to perform certain scenes, to have the most impact on the audience. Both have been incredibly accomplished in the world of speech and debate: their duo placed first in the National Qualifications and various other tournaments. They will be competing at Nationals in Kentucky in the upcoming months.

The duo is incredibly involved with the speech and debate team, by dedicating their time to helping their peers and attending team bonding events. These events include numerous hours at blitzes (fun Speech and Debate practice time), organizing MSD days, and Squitzmas (Speech and Debate in Christmas mode). When asked about friendships, Justin described the nurturing environment and the joy of friendly competition: “The individuals on the team lay the foundation for pillars of friendship, growth, character, and success to be built. Sometimes, it can be difficult to ask for help from teammates, but the act of simply reaching out can be monumental.” Both performers explain that learning to ask for help and keeping an open mind is key. Their current piece is one they have seen previous seniors perform, and they quickly fell in love with it. “Click” has challenged them to think outside the box, to create blocking elements that are unique and seamless.

Armed with caffeine and hard work, Genevieve is ready to conquer her dreams be it on stage or in front of the camera. She is extensively involved with the Performing Arts program and recently played Karen the Computer in the Spongebob Musical. Gen loves to explore the intersection of speech and theater, as they both revolve around her passions for acting. With these activities, she is able to sharpen her acting skills and has decided to pursue acting in college and beyond. She hopes to enter the film industry and learn more about directing and acting; with dreams of one day being in a movie.

Meanwhile, Justin doesn’t have rigid plans for the future and wants to ride out the journey that has just begun. He advises to not take things too seriously, and says, “Don’t let things that seem intimidating get to you; live in the weird-wacky zone.” Regardless, both want to give back to the Speech and Debate community and offer the same guidance they received as students, completing and restarting a circle of speech and debate life. Genevieve ends with, “Good things happen to those who are willing to wait and those who are willing to put in the work.” There’s the secret: live in the weird-wacky, work hard, and play even harder.