Carson High speech, debate has first home event since COVID

Carson High speech, debate has first home event since COVID

Carson High School senior Abigail Cook is the only speech and debate student this year who remembers what it was like to host a homecoming tournament before COVID-19 took hold in 2020.

She calls it a “misery” if there aren’t enough judges to staff the pageant for a long time, something most of her classmates who have come after her hadn’t seen before this month’s pageant.

Carson High’s first speech and debate tournament in almost three years on Dec. 9 and 10 hosted 14 schools, 72 volunteer judges and 169 competitors who all participated in 10 rounds of competition, according to CHS social studies teacher and speech coach Patrick Mobley. It was quite the turnout for the Senators team to experience the event at home as it was before the pandemic hit, before there were greater rules and restrictions — before things were different.

Cook, a Class of 2020, was a junior then and just getting into the waters of learning about tournaments. She said in debate at the time, she was more shy, but when she became a sophomore, she found her footing. She had won first place in a district tournament before COVID as a freshman, but never placed in the upper division in debate. Now she describes herself as a “very competitive person” who likes to be a perfectionist.

“Somehow, I put on my big girl pants and competed, and I’m good at senior debate,” she said. “I didn’t participate as much as I would have this year, but it was a really great experience.”

Mobley recalled making the trip to Las Vegas in February 2020 with his team when word came that it would be canceled.

In fact, in June 2020, six of his students had participated in the National Online Speech and Debate Tournament pitting 5,300 students against the nation’s best among 1,322 schools. Mobley had told the Appeal at the time that because of the COVID restrictions, the last time he had seen any of his students at the time was when they were “on a bus.”

“It will be nice to have a tournament here again,” Mobley said in early December before the tournament.

Reporting on the results of this month’s event, he said 15 members of Carson’s squad took part, with many making it to the final rounds and taking first place.

Mobley noted in Humorous Interpretation, Mason Tims placed third in the top performance “The Merchandise King,” a satire of “The Lion King.”

As a rookie, Robert Sainz finished second overall with his rendition of Toy Story.

In the original Oratory, Kyle Allen finished sixth in the senior competition by calling for the protection of women’s rights, and Summer McGill placed fourth in the novice by explaining the issue of homelessness among LGBTQ youth. McGill also finished second overall in the Big Questions debate on the topic, “People are primarily motivated by self-interest.” Mobley said she has moved up to the senior division.

In the overall debate, earning speaking points for their events, Nasia Perkins finished 10th, Pebble Wiggins finished ninth, Kyle Allen and Mason Tims claimed eighth, Emily Tran placed sixth, Penelope Truell placed fifth and McGill ranked third.

Partners Cook and Penelope Truell finished third overall in the Public Forum debate on the topic, “The Great Power Competitive Strategy of the United States Produces More Good Than Harm.”

Finally, Mobley said, Carson continues to dominate the Oral Interpretation Program. Cook finished fifth with her program examining the punishment of female sexuality. Penelope Truell took second place with her article on drug abuse and rehabilitation, and Emily Truell finished first looking at discrimination against Vietnam War refugees.

There were about 70 judges expected to judge the rounds, and those who are inexperienced eventually learn to relax into the role and learn how to coach the students, he said before the tournament as the students prepared. The team now looks ahead to the next tournament at Damonte Ranch High School in January, Mobley said.

“It’s like I tell the students coming into the first round,” he said. “Once you get into the first round, it becomes fun and then the judges want to come back. Yes, it’s intimidating, but the referees still have all the power.”

Cook, meanwhile, is looking at her college options in Washington and adds that she has “a lot of other things on my bucket list before I graduate.”

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