Speech and Debate annual showcase to be held Sept. 13

Speech and Debate annual showcase to be held Sept. 13

Namrata Ramani

From left to right, senior Gavin Wong, senior Sruti Mamidanna, junior Vishnu Shankar and Class of 2012 alumnus Adhi Watave perform during last year’s Speech and Debate showcase. This year the team welcomes its two new advisors, English teachers Mark Carpenter and Frank Ruskus. Photos used with permission of Speech and Debate.

The fifth annual MVHS Speech and Debate showcase will be held this Thursday, Sept. 13, in the auditorium from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Some of the performances featured this year will include Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Parliamentary Debate, Humorous Interpretation and Original Advocacy.

According to senior Gavin Wong, an Interpretation captain, one of the team’s main goals for the showcase is to show the audience what Speech and Debate is really about and motivate students to join the team.

“[I hope that] people go wow,” Wong said. “Or people go, ‘You know what, I think it’s time for me to go outside my comfort zone, [to] finally stand up to that fear of public speaking.’”

This year will be the first time Speech and Debate presents Parliamentary Debate, an event the team officially adopted into their program last year. The addition of Parliamentary Debate to the showcase is not the only change Speech and Debate has made this year — following the departure of former coach Shirley Keller, English teachers Mark Carpenter and Frank Ruskus were appointed as the new advisors of the team.

“I’m always excited to work with students who are genuinely interested in a topic, whatever it is,” Ruskus said. “Mr. Carpenter and I can maybe offer some things that may not have been offered in the past, [and] do our best … to manage expectations.”

Ruskus and Carpenter were approached by administration early this year about coaching, and, after meeting with Speech and Debate captains, both agreed to take the job.

Although neither Ruskus nor Carpenter participated in Speech and Debate in high school, both are knowledgeable in the practice of rhetoric, and plan to use their expertise accordingly to help prepare members for tournaments.

Wong is confident in the team’s new advisors and looks forward to working with Ruskus and Carpenter in the coming year.

“They know what they’re doing,” he said. “I’m sure they will bring good perspectives, good stuff, to the team.”

According to Carpenter, the transition into the position has been smooth so far, due largely to the professionalism of the Speech and Debate captains.

“I’d really like to see my role as being a liaison between the officers and administration — I see my role as being primarily [a supervisor], really,” Carpenter said. “I know that they are a motivated and ambitious group, and I’m just [going to] help them reach their goals.”

One of those goals includes expanding and strengthening the team’s membership base. Varsity LD captain senior Sean Lee hopes to draw in people interested in improving their public speaking abilities — in particular, new freshmen.

“Speech and Debate [membership] kind of goes in and out like the tide,” Lee said. “It’s kind of been getting on the low point in past years: a lot of our more experienced seniors have been dropping out at their peak level. And I’m hoping that this year will be … on the upward trend.”

In addition to attracting more members, Speech and Debate ultimately seeks to help students improve their speaking skills and general confidence when presenting to an audience.

“I don’t care if you [make it to the] final [or] semi-final,” Wong said. “[Having] better people skills, being able to talk confidently, not [worrying] about little things — that self-confidence, you can’t pay for that. That is really what I hope for Speech and Debate this year, that we help people form those skills.”

The Speech and Debate showcase will be held on Sept. 13 in the auditorium from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.