Debate team takes region

Back Row: Kason Merchant, Miguel Mayorga, Jake Shelley, Myers Miller,Kamden Saling, and Tate Goble

Front Row: Jaylynn Johnson (assistant coach), Raiden Johnson, Isabel Hallows, Brittania Summarell, Tianna Easterday, Gracey Lambertsen, Rebekah Christensen, Caden Johnson, Tarah Johnson

Not pictured: McKenna Lewis and Laynee Okerlund

              North Sevier’s Debate Team placed first at the region competition this past week in Gunnison.  Also at the meet were teams from North Summit and Gunnison, and state will be held March 18-19 at Salem Hills.

              There are currently 15 students on the team, but everyone is welcome.

              “If someone comes up to me and asks about Debate, we see if they have time to compete and we will put them in an event,” said Coach Tara Johnson. “At region we had two students that had never competed before. They just didn’t have the time because of the sports that they were involved in. But Region was after those seasons, and they were willing to just jump in and try it. Most of our students have been like that. It was a learning process for all of us, and so I told them to just jump in and try and learn as they went, and they have done very well at adapting.”

              There are seven freshmen, including Raiden Johnson, Caden Johnson, Gracey Lambertsen, Tianna Easterday, Rebekah Christensen, Laynee Okerlund, and Brittania Summarell, two sophomores, Jake Shelley and Kamden Saling, two juniors, Kason Merchant and Myers Miller, and four seniors, Tate Goble, Isabel Hallows, Miguel Mayorga, and McKenna Lewis.

              The topics at the region event depended on the event that the students competed in. The Debate Events are Public Forum whose topic was: Resolved: In the United States, the benefits of increasing organic agriculture outweigh the harms.

              The Lincoln Douglas Topic was: Resolved: In a democracy, a free press ought to prioritize objectivity over advocacy.

              Congress had five different bills they could talk about, and the SPAR topics changed every round. The students in PF and LD must prepare both sides of the argument.

              “They don’t know which side they will be debating until before the round starts, which is one of the great things about Debate,” she said. “Learning both sides of a story is a great skill that I hope they can use throughout their life.”

              She said Congress they can prepare speeches for a specific side of the bill, but to really prepare they would also prepare speeches for both sides.

              SPAR is an impromptu debate and again, they don’t know which side they are going to be debating, or what the topic is until they get in the round. To prepare for SPAR the students are encouraged to keep up on current events.

              North Sevier’s PF team was Tate Goble and Isabel Hallows, and they took 1st. Gracey Lambertsen took 1st in LD and Tianna Easterday took 2nd. 

              In addition, there are interp events, including Extemp where they get a national or foreign topic and they get 30 minutes to research it and prepare a 7 minute speech. They are not allowed to use any notes, they just have to remember what they just researched. 

              Original Oratory is a 7-10 minute speech that the students write and memorize and present. McKenna Lewis took 1st in this event at Region.

              Impromptu is 7 minutes, and in that time they have to, without researching anything, just off the top of their head, come up with a speech. Generally, it’s 2 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to speak, but they can use any combination of time adding up to 7 minutes. They get an abstract word, a quote, and a famous person and come up with something in that time frame.

              Finally, there are Humorous Interps and Dramatic Interps. This is a 7-10 minute monologue or scene that the students prepare, memorize, and perform for the judges. Brittania Summarell took 1st in this category with her Dramatic Interp. 

              This is the first year NSHS has had a debate team, and Coach Johnson said that after becoming employed at NSHS, she noticed there were a lot of great activities as well as a few that were missing.

              “I competed in Debate in High School and College, and I knew the great things that it can do for the students,” she said. “The students have also noticed that there could be more. I had a couple of them approach me last year and talk about how we needed a debate team. The timing worked out well for the administration to approve it, and here we are! I’m really proud of this group of kids.”

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Lora Fielding

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