2019-2020 Speech and Debate Program

Ebony Carter, Reporter

Speech and Debate is an educational extracurricular activity that is enjoyed by skilled intellectual  middle school, high school, and college level students across the nation throughout the duration of the academic year. Speech and Debate is an identity that can only be taken on by the best of the best, the most capable of students. Many students across the Cherry Creek School District share this identity- many while belong to our very own Overland High School. The Speech and Debate team has always been a strong yet underrecognized force across the nation- even in the Blazer community.

I had the privilege to conduct an interview with Joel Scherer, the Assistant Coach of the Speech and Debate team for two years now. The first question I posed to Mr. Scherer was what was the vision for the team at the start of  this year? When all is said and done at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, what would the team like to be able to say on their behalf? What do they want their Blazer community and the larger Speech and Debate society to think of when the Blazer debate team crosses their mind? Mr Scherer replied that the vision of the club “ flows from the captains and the president, Rae Chasansky (12)”. The vision for the team is quite common of any team- academic or athletic. They were looking for” new recruits that are passionate about learning.” The play out of this vision “ was good in the beginning, but the last month has been kind of hard because of all of the busy, involved schedules of the leadership board of the team. We haven’t had a captain’s meeting in about a month.” Although, the team still holds strong and drives at full force ahead to clearly see their vision played out for this year with “ fall break skill workshops, the strong focus on meeting and preparation, scaling down on tournaments to once a month, a focus on team bonding, and retaining the speech and debate program at Overland.” The heavy focus on recruits has done the team good. At the beginning of the year, the team was booming- “ our opening night was full; you could feel the potential interest in the club from all of the students in the room.” Though the numbers that the club now has definitely fell due to the realization of how rigorous the club and activity of speech and debate actually is, the club is home to many “ young and promising debaters that are consistent,” which in the end will contribute to the overall success of the team because as we all know, it is about quality over quantity.

In life, leadership is about knowing the way, going the way, and showing the way. The Overland forensics team has definitely modeled that with their structure of leadership that they have adopted and practiced over the last 2 years. The leadership structure has been modeled after “ powerful, successful debate schools such as Cherry Creek High School and Kent Denver School.” Over the last 2 years, the team has developed a president and supporting captains model for their leadership structure because they have found that just having captains on an equal playing field gives the club “ no clear voice or vision.” Having a president reverses this as the president” writes the narrative of the club.” This school year, the president of the team is senior, Rae Chasansky. Under her, she has 2 supporting captains, sophomores Fatima Eisa and Lexi Jamieson. The president of the team is an upperclassmen that has strong debate experience and knowledge. The president is the one who drives the agenda of the club. The structure of leadership has been perceived as a success by assistant coach, Scherer over the past two years as it has “ really helped with LD because the new LD debaters have received tremendous support because of the specialty in LD of all of the leaders. We are actively looking to put in place a presidential counterpart for speech and are actively looking to further grow the speech program here at Overland.”

The Overland Debate team is on an upward climb towards success. One of the biggest successes throughout the year according to the assistant coach is recruiting as they have obtained many strong, promising, and dedicated debaters which makes for a very strong debate program. As far as competition goes” the team has not had much tournament success but success in that many of the varsity/ veteran members are becoming confident enough to branch out and try new events that they have turned out to really like.” This is important because in speech and debate winning is actually not the ultimate goal, though it is desired. The ultimate achievement that all students who participate in speech and debate should be walking away with is growth in their person and abilities in forensics. Evolution and development of the leadership of the Overland Speech and Debate team has also been a big accomplishment because it has come a long way over the years. Coach Scherer has seen the “ sophomores stepping into their roles of leadership well.”

Over the years, especially this year the Speech and Debate team here at Overland has experienced growth in a multitude of aspects- numbers, ability, skill, leadership, and cohesiveness. As mentioned many times before, the team has gained many strong, dedicated members and is always actively seeking out more, especially for the speech program. New members of the program are steadily advancing at their craft every meeting, every competition, as well as the veteran/ varsity members of the team. They are becoming more and more advanced as the season goes on in their base event as they attend meetings, collaborate with other members of the team and greater society, compete, and execute their leadership roles. They are growing their abilities in the activity as a whole as they branch out to new events in debate and some even speech as well. Go Blazers! Although the team has experienced periods of divisiveness in the past amongst members of the team, cohesiveness amongst the team has definitely become a priority, and thus has improved tremendously. They are planning many bonding events for the team for the close of the semester and throughout the semester two of the school year.

Our Speech and Debate team here at Overland High School has many exciting events coming up over the course of the year. The team’s last competition for the semester is Winter Wonderland at Cherry Creek High School on December 14. Good luck, Blazers! In addition to all the competitions and team meetings that they have throughout the duration of the year the team is planning to have a movie night and a Christmas party before the school year comes to an end to contribute to the bonding effort of the team and to commend all of their hard work and successes throughout the year. Unfortunately, the team will not be attending the national circuit competition at the University of California Berkeley because they would like to “ further grow the skills of the members of the team considering this is most of their first year in debate. We want to see success here in Colorado tournaments to ensure that we will be able to have great successes with such hard competition as there is in California. This alleviates some of the stress of fundraising considering the tournament is so costly.” We are looking forward to observing and being apart of  the successes of our debate team and are wishing them the best throughout this tournament season and years to come.