The Speech and Debate

Speech and debate is a valuable activity for students of all ages. It provides a platform for students to express their opinions and ideas, and also helps to develop important skills such as critical thinking, research, and public speaking. At Juab High School, we have a great speech and debate team that are working their hardest for their upcoming competitions, which are February 25th for region and State on March 17th and 18th. I had the opportunity to go and talk to Morgan Palmer who is the speech and debate coach and also a teacher at Juab High School. My first question I had for her was how is the class going? She had told me “Speech and Debate is going great! It is a year long class where we learn skills and prepare for competitions. We have two class periods, and it has been a lot of fun to get to interact with the students.” 

 Again, I had the opportunity to go and talk to Mrs. Palmer who is the speech and debate coach and also a teacher at Juab High School, this is Mrs. Palmer’s 1st year coaching the Speech and Debate team here at Juab High School. She says “This is my first year teaching Speech and Debate, but I did have the benefit of participating in high school, so while there has been a HUGE learning curve with coaching, teaching how the events go has been easier.” Mrs. Palmer helps the speech and debate students with a bunch of things, but something I was curious about was; How do you help students to develop their public speaking and critical thinking skills? Her answer to that was “We practice and grade ourselves using rubrics. It’s great to see feedback from our peers in specific areas where we need to improve.” I think this was super interesting to hear. Something else that I found very cool to learn was; How do you help the students to prepare for competitions and what advice do you have for them? She said “I read over their cases and speeches. We also practice debating and giving speeches in class.” 

While I was talking with Mrs. Palmer,  I had the question of how many people are in the speech and debate class? She told me there are 27 students in those 27 students the seniors in the class are Rowdy Voorhees (President), Grace Holman (VP), Quenna Yuan (Secretary), Sam Todd (Publicity Manager), Sydni Cowan, Jacob Hanks, Asher Kretchmer, and Rebekah Thorn. My next question was; who is the strongest debater? She told me that “Rowdy and Grace are currently undefeated this season but we have many amazing students on the team. We also have wonderful speakers! Rebekah Thorn, Henry Everett, and Sydni Cowan have placed at every meet with their speeches.” To add onto this, I asked Mrs. Palmer, who is their biggest competitor? she said. “At the moment it is Manti, so we are working really hard to hopefully beat them at Region in a few weeks!” Their topics were my next question. I was wondering what are some of the topics? Mrs. Palmer told me that some of their topics last month were debating open borders, politics in the Middle East, also the funny ones like the topics such as “is water wet” or “is cereal soup”. She adds on by saying, “I enjoyed getting to hear the cases they created on those topics. Students have to prepare a for and against case for every topic, so at the end of the day every topic is a chance to learn.”

Some other questions I asked Mrs. Palmer were: What are your goals for the speech and debate team at Juab High School and how do you plan to achieve them? She responded to that with “My plans are to one day take state! I plan on achieving them by continuing to create an environment that encourages growth and hard work. I also want everyone to know that Speech and Debate is for EVERYONE! You don’t have to like politics to be in speech and debate. You don’t have to love to argue! You just need to be willing to try something new!”  speech and debate sounds like it would be such a fun class to take. Then the next question I asked was: What advice do you have for students who are considering participating in speech and debate for the first time? Mrs. Palmer responded with “Just try it! You would be amazed to find there is really a spot for everyone if you are willing to do the work. Speech and Debate is not easy, but it is worth it if you are willing to invest your time and effort to become more than you are.” 

Speech and debate provides students with the opportunity to develop important skills such as critical thinking, communication, and confidence, and to prepare for the future. This is something that a student can be passionate about and they can get out of their comfort zone to participate in a school event.