RCHS students make good arguments
Team members at a recent tournament (left to right:) Ben Bush, Jonah Flores, and Emily Ball.
Article by Kathy Dunker with photos courtesy of JoAnn Moran
Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) new head coach, JoAnn Moran, puts in a lot of hours for her Speech and Debate Team. While the team was formed four years ago, Moran moved up from assistant coach to head coach this year and has made a big effort to help the team grow.
After a sizable campaign effort to teachers at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) looking for good candidates about to move up to high school, Moran was able to grow from 10 kids last year to 40 this year. And she doesn’t plan to stop there. Moran hopes to increase the team to 80 students by next school year.
Speech and debate teams are organized by divisions similar to athletics. In her new role of head coach, Moran was able to add a Speech and Debate elective onto the list of available options to RCHS students this year. Any student in the class is obligated to participate in at least two tournaments within a variety of competition categories. Some students not taking the elective also participate on the team.
The team holds one practice during the week with Moran and assistant coaches available for separate one on one meetings throughout the week as well. The addition of the elective class this year has shown impressive results with competition outcomes. At the last tournament in January, Srish Sharma earned a first place award.
Moran finds speech and debate to be a very important area for students to be adept. Along with the diversity of kids the tournaments bring together, Moran says, “We are training and equipping our future leaders. Colleges weigh speech and debate experience the highest due to the confidence and communication skills that it builds.”
It is not just debating that takes place, but also humor, drama, and poetry among other options in solos, pairs and small groups. Tournaments can be very time consuming, some starting as early as 7:00 in the morning and going until 9:30 at night. And with recent budget cuts, all speech and debate coaches are now volunteering their time to the cause. This doesn’t dissuade Moran who stated, “I love these kids! It is amazing to watch them compete, become confident, and to see them shine!”
Fourteen students from the team will be competing in a congress on February 5 at Chaparral High School, which is the season’s last regular tournament. Those students are Devraj Tripasuri, Andrew Charap, Srish Sharma, Emily Ball, Joey Wainwright, Ariea Xu, Emily Demonbrun, Michael Newman, Ryan Landrum, Isabella Harrison, Kristi Davies, Jacob Henry, Hannah Henry and Daniel Gibbons. Remaining competitions will be for state and national championship qualifying.