The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

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The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Speech and Debate face economical obstacles and new guiding experiences

As the coaches of the Speech and Debate team prepare to retire, the team faces changes. Soon, the team might be struggling to survive.

Speech and Debate, or forensics, is a club at CHS that focuses on speaking in front of people while debating moral issues or interpreting fictional works of literature by acting them out in several different ways.  If participants perform well, they could receive trophies in recognition of their achievements.

Coach Brenda Bollinger will retire from the team at either the end of the 2011 or 2012 school year. Assistant coach Dave Jenkins is leaving CHS after this year.

“Because the coaches are going to retire soon, we will have a new leader of the Speech and Debate team in the near future,” forensics co-president Will Schedl said. In response, the Speech and Debate team student board has more responsibility this year.

“By giving the board members more responsibility, Ms. Bollinger and I will know that the kids will be able to ease the new coaches into leading the team better,” Jenkins said.

In order to continue the team’s excellence, the team is instituting several changes this year.

One of these additions to the team is the mentor program. Varsity members help novice-level students improve their work by giving them an audience, by encouraging them, and by offering critiques.

“The team has always had this program in place, just not officially,” Bollinger said. “Varsity students have always taken the lead in preparing novice students for competitions. This year, we are just trying to formalize this. Rather than it just being a catch-all program, the mentor program becomes more formal and more committed.”

The team wants to make sure that the transition between judges is as smooth as possible.

“By having this mentor program in place, the team will understand how to debate and interpret better when the new coaches come,” Schedl said.

Junior John Holland mentors novices interested in dramatic interpretations, humorous interpretations, and poetry reading.

“I listen to the person’s piece and give them advice on how to improve their performance,” Holland said. “This includes enhancing their stage presence, developing their characters, choosing emphasis on specific words to improve the flow and meaning of the piece, and overall encouraging them to continue their efforts.”

For those more interested in debating than interpreting, junior Becca Steinberg is on the list of mentors to help.

“As a mentor, I make sure that people with less experience understand what they need to do and feel like they are in a supportive environment that will help them be the best they can be,” Steinberg said. “This involves helping them learn how to find evidence and making sure that they understand how to write a case, without actually doing the work for them; they need to understand the method behind the madness so that they can be successful.”

Most participants agree that the mentor program is useful.

“I believe that the mentor system is an extremely good idea, even though it can be a small drain on the varsity member’s time,” Holland said. “The mentor system is a good idea because it cultivates winners in speech and debate tournaments, and builds relationships and increases the sense of community in the speech and debate world.”

However, sophomore Dee Luo, who has been on the team for two years, finds that the mentor program has not helped her; she has already found a informal mentor last year.

“To me, finding a mentor to help with something new was just embedded in the speech and debate experience,” Luo said. “I can see the benefits that it can provide new members with, but personally, nothing was gained or lost.”

Sophomore Micah Goodman, who is a growing asset on the team, has chosen not to be a mentor.

“I have too much to learn myself,” Goodman said. “But it’s a great idea, because new debaters can get excellent advice from people who have been debating, in some cases, for four years.”

Also, due to the expenses of going to many tournaments for the past several years, the Speech and Debate team is in debt and has begun to raise funds.

“Our program is an expensive one based on materials, entry fees, and travel expenses,” Bollinger said. “As the team grows, the costs become higher and higher. More people is a good thing, but we have to find more ways to raise the money we need to fund going to tournaments.”

There have been three fundraising ideas to decrease the debt.

“One idea was selling candles,” Jenkins said. “But that idea was rejected by the board.”

Although Luo is not a board member, she also opposes the idea of selling candles.

“I can see the point in getting some much needed money for the Speech and Debate team,” Luo said. “But candles? Really? I guess it’s a more creative alternative to other things, but we are speech and debaters.”

According to Jenkins, selling candles is now a last resort.

“We are, however, going to have a trivia night in the spring because those are popular and fun,” Jenkins said. “The other thing we had in mind was to make a tournament booklet, which is something that team members would give to coaches of other teams that would inform them where there are some places nearby to eat.”

The students would sell ads for the book in order to raise money for the team.

“We have around 30 schools from around the state, so some people are unaware of dining opportunities in Clayton,” Bollinger said. “Our tournament is being held on Nov. 20 and 21.”

Goodman thinks that fundraising is necessary.

“It’s not that big of a deal; we’ll all just have to put in a little extra work so that the team as a whole can excel,” Goodman said.

Schedl hopes that everything will go well this year.

“It’s my last year on the team,” Schedl said. “I hope that these changes will add to my last year here.”

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Speech and Debate face economical obstacles and new guiding experiences