Talk about a victory
FARMER’S KORNER – Summit High School’s speech and debate team was a little green this year, but its members talked their way out of that problem with grace and poise.The 34-student group spent the past five months researching, debating, improvising, acting, reciting and storytelling – a monumental effort that culminated last weekend in its capture of the state speech and debate title for the second year in a row.”This was a rebuilding year,” said coach Emily Campbell, who has been with the team for four years. “We lost a lot of key seniors last year, and much of our team was novice. We spent much of our time teaching the fundamentals. We were pleasantly surprised when we won, and we are really excited about next year.”Overall, the team garnered 23 top-10 finishes in the 2005 Colorado Speech and Debate Festival, which includes all Colorado high schools with fewer than 1,400 students.
Senior Brittony Corneillier and junior Keith Story led the pack with the team’s two first-place finishes in Humorous Interpretation and Value Debate, respectively. Corneillier also laughed her way to the podium to collect her second-place award in Duet Humor, which she earned with the help of her partner, McKenzie Bolt.”We went into the state tournament wanting to win,” Corneillier said. “We just went into finals, looked at the tons of people in the room, looked at each other and said, ‘All right. Let’s do this.'”Corneillier and Bolt performed a piece entitled, “A, My Name is Alice,” a light-hearted feminist riff on male-female relationships.
Corneillier’s choice of pieces for the Duet Competition was no accident. The local stage veteran tries to incorporate feminist themes into much of her speech work and into her own life, as exemplified by her approach to taking the crown in the individual Humorous Interpretation event.”I went into the room during finals, and there were about 70 to 100 people. I made eye contact with every single person in that room. I was the only female in finals, and I said, ‘I’m going to show up every male in this room.’ That’s what I was thinking.”Corneillier estimated she spent 700 hours since the summer working on the piece.
Story’s victory in One-on-one Value Debate came with less certainty.”It was incredible,” Story said. “During final rounds, I went against someone who was really good, and I totally thought I was beat. But in the end, I won – I was very surprised.”In value debate, competitors receive a resolution (e.g., “Democracy is best served under strict separation of church and state”), for which they have 30 minutes to prepare affirmative and negative debates. A coin toss determines which side they’ll argue.Story credited his success to “focusing not just on what the judges want to hear, but, overall what makes sense to everyone. I use a lot of evidence and support to back up what I’m saying.”
Campbell hopes she and her co-coaches, Josh Blanchard, Ernie Friesen and Kristen Rust, will build off the state victory’s momentum at the national qualifying meet this spring, in hopes of sending some team members to the national tournament in Philadelphia in June.And Campbell has plans to solidify the team’s powerhouse status by introducing a speech and debate class into the SHS course offerings.”Team members will learn the basics. But it will benefit other kids, as well. It helps them organize their thoughts and write better, to participate effectively in a discussion. So many kids don’t know how to effectively argue or debate, but persuasively arguing your point is a skill that has to be learned. It’s not something you just know how to do,” Campbell said.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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