Muscatine High School’s speech and debate team has taken on this season with success!

The speech and debate team at MHS involves about 30 students. While MHS’s team is primarily focused on speech, in the two-day tournaments in which the group participates, the second day is generally focused on debate.

There are eight different speech categories from which students can choose their speech. Those categories include Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, International Extemporaneous Speaking, and U.S. (Domestic) Extemporaneous Speaking.

The four debate categories that groups can participate in are Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Policy Debate, and Congress. Most tournaments will have events from most or all of these categories.

On February 24, 16 speech and debate students will travel to Congress Districts.

“They are such a varied group of students that likely wouldn’t have come together for any other purpose, but the bonds they have kill me,” says Brianna Hilton, MHS’s new speech coach.

The team was formerly run by Davis and Betsy Schrock, who had taken students to nationals for the last four years. Hilton took over the role when Davis found out he was being called up to active duty.

The 16 students traveling to districts are Aura Niaves, Ezekiel Ellis, Macey Webber, Lucy Brookhart, Celeste Franco, Daniel Salazar, Gabe Dipple, Abbie Enirquez, Caylie McConnaha, Dalton Belankopitous, Derek Sloat, Hannah Pautz, Kjirstin Osland, Jeremiah Daniels, Kristen Schlawin, and Seery Awbrey. The group gets together to practice every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday.

“Even on tournament weekends, where they are spending upwards of 18 hours together, they will plan ‘team bonding’ on Sunday night,” Hilton says.

During practice, students run through their speeches, either to themselves or before a “judge.” Judges may be other students, coaches, or volunteers who have come to help give feedback and suggestions to make their performance better. They also go over the ballots/scores from previous competitions. Looking over judge notes can tell students where to focus their attention.

At every tournament, students earn points. These points are recorded by the
National Speech and Debate Association. It is essentially an honor society, and at different thresholds, students achieve the next level of honor. District competitions are different because, in addition to earning those points, this tournament qualifies a student to attend Nationals. First and second-place winners from each event earn a slot at Nationals in June. This year the national tournament takes place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.