Steamboat Springs High School speech and debate team scores well at state competition
Steamboat Springs — Four members of Steamboat Springs High School’s speech and debate team recently took top honors at a state tournament.
Sophomore Meg Anderson placed fifth in the original oratory category, while sophomore Isabelle Feldman and freshman Sammy Lee placed seventh together in duet acting humor. Freshman Amanda Pearlman received an Award of Excellence in impromptu speaking.
The Colorado High School Activities Association State Festival Tournament took place Jan. 23 and 24 at Heritage High School in Littleton.
The four students from Steamboat are part of the school’s 12-person team, coached by English teacher Lisa Ruff. The other team members who participated at the state level were Kelsy Armstrong, Web Barron, Hunter Brundridge and Willie Gunn.
Steamboat competed against teams from more than 20 other schools, with a total of more than 200 competitors.
Ruff said team members have been meeting with her and assistant coach Jamie Oberhansly since the speech and debate season began in October, perfecting speeches in subjects like interpretation of literature, debate, oration, impromptu speaking, creative storytelling and public forum.
“We practice before school, at lunchtime and sometimes after school,” said Ruff, who has coached the team for four years.
Sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association, the speech and debate team travels to tournaments throughout the state together, but team members compete individually, and there is no team score, Ruff said.
The fifth-place speech by Anderson was the same piece she had been working on since the fall. It was a first-person account of a character’s perseverance and determination to be drafted into the NBA. She competed against 54 other students in that event.
Ruff said that speech and debate teaches students responsibility and integrity.
“They learn to be independent, critical thinkers,” Ruff said. “They develop self confidence, a sense of presence and poise. It’s so wonderful to watch them grow.”
Ruff said the students on Steamboat’s speech and debate team have a cumulative GPA of 3.77, the highest of any team at the high school and enough to qualify them for Academic All-State honors from CHSAA.
Students this year didn’t apply for a qualifying national event, which takes place in July, but Ruff said Steamboat Springs High School students have competed twice in the past.
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