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Speaking their minds

Speech, debate teams prepare for competition

Sean Smith wants to be a lawyer, and he said the Moffat County High School speech and debate team will help him obtain his dream.

“I like speaking a lot, and I know it will help with my future,” he said.

A freshman, Smith said he is starting early with the team and hopes his skills grow as he advances in high school.



Speech and debate coach Eric Hansen said freshmen comprise more than half of this year’s team, and that participation has increased dramatically this year.

“Twenty-four (members) is a pretty big jump for us,” he said. “Last year, we only had six.”



Hansen attributes this to a speech program started at the middle school last year.

Freshman Stephanie Day said she joined at the high school level because of a good experience at the tournament last year.

“I’d heard about speech and debate a lot, and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun,” she said.

She said she wants to be an actress when she gets older and thinks this practice will help her get there.

“It was hard at first, but I got more experience at it and it’s becoming easier,” she said.

Hansen said judges for these events are parents and community volunteers who are trained in what to look for in the students’ speeches. At the tournament at the high school, more than 40 volunteers helped out.

Students may participate in one of many competitions — poetry, humor interpretation, impromptu and individual or duo debates.

Each Moffat County member competes in two contests during the day-long meets, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each category has three rounds, and students are given scores based on their performances.

“My favorite part is probably having the adrenaline feeling getting ready,” Smith said, “and when the judge likes you and likes your speech, it feels good.”

Day said she gets nervous before she competes but that by the end of it, she’s had a good time. Often, she learns something from listening to others hash out an issue.

“It’s neat to listen to debates, because you learn about life,” Day said.

Her coach couldn’t agree more.

“I think (speech and debate is) really good for life skills,” Hansen said.

“It’s one of the only things in high school you actually use in real life.”


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