Speaking his way to the championship
By Kathy Fallert; photo courtesy of Ethan Griffin
Ethan Griffin, an 18-year-old high school senior, is the captain of the Mullen High School Speech and Debate team, as well as first place winner at the online state championship for speech and debate in March. Resident of Castle Pines, Griffin started speech as an after-school activity in seventh grade and has been competing for six years.
Griffin reflected, “I joined the activity because at that point in middle school, I didn’t have any athletics, and I needed something to do. Speech seemed like a fun opportunity!” Speech is an individual activity. A competitor writes an oratory speech about a topic that is meaningful to them. Interpretation, shortened to interp, is about taking those topics and expressing them through books, plays, movies and scripts acted out in a performance.
“Interp is my specialty,” said Griffin. “I started off with the humor event, mostly for having fun, but moved into drama where I could attack harder issues such as mental illnesses perpetuated by the American school system and broader topics such as homophobia. Speech and debate competitions are every weekend, so I have a lot of opportunities to perfect my performances.”
There are a lot of steps before making it to the state level, but the deciding factor is the regional state qualifying tournaments. Colorado is divided into three regions, and Griffin ranked in the top eight of his region. Griffin took first place in the category of Program Oral Interpretation.
At the national level, there is only one qualifying tournament per state, and the top two or three students qualify. Griffin commented, “I’m lucky enough to be able to compete in the national circuit and show off my skill and message to more people around the country!” Nationals will be held June 13-19 online by the National Speech & Debate Association.