Debaters compete at national-qualifying tournament


menefee photo

Debaters Nadia Garcia, Kendall Morales and Lilah Molina hunt for shells at the beach in High Island. The group relaxed at the beach on the morning of the second day of competition before debating in the afternoon.

The development of the competitive speech class last school year means that more students now have class time to devote to practicing speech and debate events. In addition to taking the district UIL championship last spring, the class decided to join and compete in the National Speech and Debate organization starting this year. In addition to earning points at practice competitions all year long, the group earned enough points for three entries at the national qualifying meet for the Yellow Rose district last weekend.

The meet was three days and was held at Hamshire-Fannett High School. Students and coaches alike were a little nervous because it was a new experience.

“We just were not real sure what the expect,” CX coach Melonie Menefee said. There are a lot of schools in our NSDA district, from north of Dallas all the way down to the coast, and the majority of them are a lot bigger than we are.”

After a late-night of debating, students were still not out of the double-elimination tournament; LD debater Abby Smith was at 2-1 and CX team Evan Grisham and Kendall Morales were 3-0. Freshmen Lilah Molina and Taylor Lack drew more seasoned teams as opponents in both of their rounds, and were out at the end of the first day.

“The girls were disappointed in their debating, but I was not,” Menefee said. “They drew tough, experienced teams in the two rounds they lost. They are freshmen. I know they hated losing, but I also know the experience was wonderful for them.”

With the second day of debating not starting up until the afternoon, the students and coaches drove the half hour to High Island to spend some time at the beach, even if it was far too cold to get in the water.

“Traveling together was a great experience, because it gave us the opportunity to bond. All of the students rode in the same van so we just played music and had fun,” freshman Lilah Molina said. “We also got to go to the beach, so that was exciting. The whole trip was just a fun way for all of us debaters to spend time with each other.”

After the second day of competition, the other debaters were out as well, with Morales and Grisham losing rounds to the only two teams still undefeated at the end of the second day.

“It was a great way to get more experience and practice,” sophomore Evan Grisham said. “We even made it into the top eight teams, when we weren’t expecting to get anywhere that high up.”

The coaches were also happy with the overall results.

“I was thrilled with how the kids did over all,” Menefee said. “We went up against some really large, really established speech teams, and our kids held their own.”

The students look forward to traveling again soon.

“It was something I’ve never experienced before, it was very fun and stressful all at the same time,” freshman Taylor Lack said. “I hope we get to have more trips like this in the future.”