Speech and Debate: Growing together

Speech and debate, a class offered at NHS, consists of a community of supportive students


Maddie McCrea

Speech and Debate coach Jay Williamson offers advice to speech and debate students.

   Speech and debate can attract people with many different interests. Whether it’s performance, learning skills applicable to life or being a part of a diverse community, students in speech and debate say there is a place for all kinds of different people. 

   Sophomore Madeline Morris  said she decided to take speech and debate due to her love of public performance. 

   “When I was younger, I did singing and dancing and I was in acting performance groups,” Morris said. “That all just kind of translated when I heard about debate.”

    Having gone through several years of speech and debate, Morris said her favorite part of it is the atmosphere.

   “There’s a lot of creative energy and everyone is always so supportive…,” Morris said. “How close you get with people and everything you get to go through together — I consider that to be a major accomplishment in itself.” 

  Senior Isaiah Holgerson said people from all different types of backgrounds join speech and debate. 

   “I kind of just went for it out on a whim on some junior high scheduling day, but I’ve loved it since and it’s been an absolute blast,” Holgerson said.

   Holgerson said his favorite part of speech and debate is the community. 

“We have a ton of fun going to other schools and listening to each other perform and debate — we just have a really good group of people who are involved,” Holgerson said. “As we’ve stressed together,  struggled together and grown together we’ve all gotten really, really close.”

   When taking speech and debate, students are taught not only the different events in the course, but skills that can be applicable to everyday life. Speech and debate teacher Jay Williamson said the class helps students grow as people.

   “Personally I do think that it is a good class for learning about other people and obviously having to see multiple sides of an issue, so you come to understand and empathize … with people [who] you might not normally understand their situation in life,” Williamson said. “…They see a bigger world and see all the different sides and walks of life people are in.”  

   Morris said speech and debate teaches communication skills, critical thinking and people skills, but speech and debate has taught her mainly about perspective. 

   “…That’s what I’ve learned most about, especially in the debate aspect of it,” Morris said. “You have to consider all sides of arguments and sometimes you end up arguing for things you don’t agree with.” 

   Holgerson said that a lot of what speech and debate teaches can translate into everyday life and has helped him grow as a person. 

   “I’ve really grown in my ability to work hard … and so this past season when I had a lot of success in speech and debate I was proud of all the accolades … but I was also just really proud of how hard I worked,” Holgerson said. “That’s going to be a part of whatever career I land on.” 

   With other skills such as specific research, persuasion and confident speaking, Williamson said his class focuses on learning about the types of speech and debate events. 

   “There are three types of debate style that they can learn about and participate in, and there are about a dozen different speech events,” Williamson said. “So we learn the rules, guidelines and formats … and then try to pick the ones that students feel confident in by competition.” 

   With all kinds of events in speech and debate, Holgerson said one of the things he loves about it is how open the class is. 

   “Whether you’re a really serious person or a really comedic person, or you’re really interested in specific things … there’s a place for all kinds of people,” Holgerson said. “It’s been a super, super fun time and I would highly recommend it — just to give it a try. It may not be your thing, but there’s a good chance it will be.”