Speech and Debate: Four National Qualifiers

Ava Bearskin, Editor-in-Chief

A life altering and goosebump raising story. 30 minutes of prep time before giving a speech. Months of preparation. This is what Pattonville High School’s Speech and Debate Team has undergone. Despite major difficulties, four of their members qualified for the National Competition.

Junior Bryant Ewing participated in speech category “Original Oratory.” He wrote a ten minute speech about “a friend of mine we lost to gang violence, and how his story parallels, and intersects with mine.” Ewing found it important to share this story and stress the importance of identity, especially within the Black community. After rewriting his speech many times over the course of the year, he was able to find the right words to describe his experience.

“It was my story… a unique one. It was a lightbulb that lit up in my head after some critical, yet constructive encouragement from Ms. Raymond and Mr. Frazier. I had made something that I believed was meaningful. Something I could bring life to,” Bryant explains.

Seniors Jailah Broadway and Mya Harris competed in the public debate forum. They were given the topic of the benefits and harms of creating a US Space Force. The partners did a lot of research to prepare for the competition.  They needed to fully understand their topic and the different aspects of it. Jailah explained that her biggest challenges were “navigating switching to a virtual debate atmosphere and learning how to adapt while also living in 2021 where every week it seems as though something new is going wrong.” Jailah and Mya are also national qualifiers. Mya also was voted Eastern Missouri Student of the Year.

In US Extemporaneous Speaking, Junior Isabella Tucci qualified for the national competition. “I am very excited. I have been in debate since my freshman year, and being a national qualifier has always been a dream,” the senior says.

Isabella participated in many rounds of speeches in which she was given 30 minutes of prep time for each one. Some of her topics included maternal mortality rates, the cruise industry, and various right wing militia questions.

Pattonville’s Speech and Debate coach, Mrs. Raymond was selected as coach of the year. Their assistant coach, Lance Allen, was named as assistant coach of the year. “I am humbled to have been selected. I am lucky to work with an amazing team of coaches at Pattonville and to work in a supportive community of coaches throughout the Eastern Missouri region,” Raymond comments.

“I am really proud of our whole team, and especially our national qualifiers. They’ve worked hard all year in difficult circumstances, but they were resilient and adapted well to the online format,” Coach Raymond states. The team will be headed to Zoom Nationals June 13-19.