Carson High School will host its first speech and debate tournament in three years this coming Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4-5.
"I'm psyched that we're able to have the tournament," said senior and four-year member Dustin Stockton. "We finally have enough people."
At the end of the 1997 school year, the team's coach left the school. The following year, a chaperone was appointed to accompany the team on trips but the students were left to coach themselves.
"I tried to pass on what limited knowledge I had," Stockton said.
In 1998, Cheryl Laird did her student teaching at the high school and informally took over coaching the team. This year, she was hired as an English and speech teacher and was appointed as the official speech and debate coach.
"I'm learning a lot and they're learning a lot along the way," Laird said. "Every tournament they get better and better."
Speech and debate tournaments feature three categories: speech events - prepared and impromptu speaking; interpretive - a student presents a memorized drama or skit; and debate.
Laird said that most CHS students choose the Congress-style debate because, "after all, we are the Senators."
Members of the team are exposed to a wide variety of different people and situations.
"One of the great things about speech and debate is that you learn skills in just about everything," said club President Loren Ross, 17. "There's different types of people all expressing their opinions."
Stockton said members are diverse and cannot be put into a single character type.
"Debaters are stereotyped as kids with glasses, but we have athletes and goofballs," he said. "We even have a cheerleader."
The cheerleader, junior Emily Woodside, said she's naturally gregarious, and the team gives her an outlet to express herself.
"As a teenager, you're really not heard," she said. "In speech and debate, I feel like I'm being heard and understood."
Sophomore Michael Fischer is confident in the team's ability.
He said the team represents the masters of the debate squad.
The team is looking for members of the community to be judges for the tournament.
Judges must be at least 18 years old and not a high school student. To be a judge for the speech and debate tournament call Laird at 885-6527.