Speech and Debate Team Prepares Students for Successful Futures

Speech and Debate Team Prepares Students for Successful Futures

Tami Parker is a Fairview resident and one of the coaches of the speech and debate team at Lovejoy High School. She has held this position for eight years and over that time period the group has grown from six students to 75 students. Parker attributes the growth to “the sheer amount of talent at this school.” Jake Cosio, the other LHS speech and debate coach, believes credit should also be given to Parker’s great job of recruiting. Parker said, “Any class that gives the opportunity to research and explore new ideas will grow. Our team works hard to be a family.” Cosio said that wide scope of speech and debate, which allows for 17 unique competitions, attracts many students.

Luke Wheatley is a sophomore and participates in the interpretation events. He said the environment and culture of the team is what attracted him to join. He met the team at the annual ice cream social before school started this year. He said he has learned life skills such as speaking with confidence. Kaeli Wilburn is a senior who said when she joined this team she wanted to be a lawyer, but after her first Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate she decided that was not the career path for her and has opted for interpretation speech. She said she has increased her leadership skills while being on this team. She enjoys the team trip to a donut shop before every tournament. Clay Parker is a senior and one of Tami Parker’s sons. He semi-laughingly said he joined the team because, “I didn’t have a choice.” Tami said she requires each of her children to be on the team for one year and after that year, it is their choice to continue or not. Clay is the team captain and said he has made many friends on the team as well as others from different school districts. He likes the fact that many teammates are also involved in other school activities and said he might not have met them if it hadn’t been for this team. Collins Morgan is a junior and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Captain. He enjoys the competitive elements of the team as well as the research he does for competitions. He attained one of his goals this year when he received his first bid for the Tournament of Champions. He is the first student at LHS to receive this honor. Anna Rouse is a senior and the speech and congressional debate captain. She said, “I grew up with Ms. Parker.” When she was young, Parker told her she would be on the team and so she did. Reflecting on her participation on the team she said, “(It) has set me up for success in the future. I wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation with strangers, little eighth grade me would have been too terrified.” Through research for her events, she has gained a strong understanding of national and world events which she feels will also help her in the future.

Cosio said that at the competition in February there were 3000 speeches given over three days. Parker said the team never stops training. “We start the year as if preparing for the national tournament in June.” LD topics change every two months. Two topics this year are ‘Should the U.S. Federal Government Increase Quota for H-1B Visas’ and ‘Should the U.S. Implement Universal Basic Income’.  Cosio said the best part of debate is the fact that the students are required to debate both sides of the argument.

The team has competed in many competitions this year. Parker and Cosio are very appreciative that LHS Principal Chris Mayfield has attended some of the competitions. Parker said, “We know we are blessed to be in this district. If Principal Mayfield and the administration didn’t see the benefit of this program, we couldn’t have it.”

Principal Mayfield said, “The LHS Speech and Debate team gives students the opportunity to improve their communication and thinking skills. They are a close-knit group that enjoys the camaraderie and competition they experience in the program. The program has grown tremendously over the last 8 years and has had strong success at the state and national level.” Principal Mayfield is a Lucas resident.

**Article printed in the April 5h issue

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