Rather than give a speech at last night’s banquet where students and their parents are really anxious to get their awards, it’s better to just jot down a few thoughts about where we are going in speech and debate and share them with you on my blog.
This method comes with a request, especially to our speech/debate parents – with your involvement, Revere Speech & Debate has become a strong and thriving program. But we can’t count on just a couple of parents, and we can’t count on just a couple of student leaders, to carry the ball. We can have a 35 to 45 student program in 2016-2017, but only if we have the parent support and student leadership to make it work.
A. PARENTS – The more you can do to boost what we are doing, the more time Coach Hayley and I (and other coaches whom we may add) will have to do what we most want to do – COACH. We will be going to a new practice system next year – working 1-2 nights a week for 1.5 to 2 hours beginning at 6 p.m. at the high school. (Why? It is more productive for the students that way.)
- We need judges. On average, we have to bring a judge for every 3.5 students we take to a speech and debate tournament. We should plan for a minimum of 8-9 judges for each/every tournament next year, based upon trends.
- We need a regularly-meeting booster group. We could solicit businesses for support. We could obtain judges from law firms and service organizations in Bath and Richfield. We could do so much more if 7-9 parents got together regularly, put their collective minds to work, and made more happen for speech and debate.
B. PARENTS AND STUDENTS – It is also time for a few major improvements in our program next year:
- Let’s go National! There are tournaments in places such as Princeton and Yale. We have some terrific debaters and speakers, and they would benefit a lot by competing against the very best in the nation. Our students will see (and be seen) as the top-flight academic achievers that they are. We can, and should, grow by doing two national tournaments in the coming year, and aiming for more beyond that.
- Let’s look at Policy Debate – It’s a bit different. A big advantage in policy is that there is just one topic for an entire year. Perhaps we take a group of incoming ninth graders, assign them to policy, and grow the program using them (and their parents as judges) to begin this process.
- Let’s plan for how our students approach and prioritize speech/debate – We know that speech/debate is not the No. 1 extra-curricular for every competitor. So, a couple of student leaders and I are giving a lot of thought to having both “regular” and “reserve” squads for speech/debate next year. If a student has other priorities and only wants to compete for 4-5-6 tournaments, we can put them onto the “reserve” squad. Those who aim to compete in eight or more tournaments next year and who tell us that speech/debate is a high priority will end up on the “regular” squad.
C. STUDENTS – Let’s look at doing a few more things as well:
- Raising our profile –– How to we make fellow students more aware of speech/debate and its many benefits? How do we make sure your fellow students who would make great speakers and debaters get to our program? Let Anthony or Megan or Leah or Grace know your thoughts about this. Some of it is simple – put the words “speech and debate” on a letter jacket, for example.
- Pushing each other – We need to improve through preparation and practice. P-P-P-P-P-P. The more time you put into it the better you will become. We could take 15 students to next year’s State Finals, if you’re willing to put in the effort to get there.
- Family – Let’s look a bit beyond the everyday irritations and stresses of high school. We all know the anchors that can drag us down. Let’s keep doing what we have done pretty well this year, regard each other as not just classmates, not just teammates, but as valued and cherished members of a family, a Revere Speech and Debate family. With help from student leadership, we can do this.
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There are three additional “IOI” — Items of Interest, I wish to share with you.
One SURE WAY to improve in speech and debate is attend a summer camp. One hundred percent of this year’s Revere State Qualifiers went to a camp last summer! Here’s a link to some of the many camps, including ONLINE CAMPS (you don’t have to leave home for these) offered by the National Speech and Debate Association, NSDA:
March 15 is WORLD SPEECH DAY. There are a lot of activities aimed at heightening the value and importance of speech and debate on this date. Take Action by clicking here to obtain more details:
Finally, here is a link to a terrific contest where you can win acclaim (and admission to a camp) by producing a video about the value of Free Speech. You can also see the ’16 – ’17 NSDA Policy Debate Topic by clicking here: