Speech and Debate Season Wrap Up


Hellgate finalists at the state tournament. Photo courtesy of Faith You

Sophia Marsolek and Evyn Good

     As the 2022-23 Speech and Debate season comes to an end, students reflect on this year’s performance. “Honestly, it has been a great time,” said senior Debate Captain Ashley Kim. 

     Starting in late October through early February, students compete in up to eight tournaments around the state. With practice up to three times a week, the devoted students are kept busy. “I would recommend it to those that have free time,” said senior Debate Captain Melina LaPlante.

     Most recently, the team traveled to Billings for the AA state tournament. With both Speech and Debate competitors placing in their events, the team took fifth place overall. Due to unsafe weather conditions, the coaches agreed to stay in Billings another night. Sunday morning, all students were able to return safely to Missoula. 

    “It has been a tremendous learning experience as I have been introduced to a wide variety of opinions and topics and seen new perspectives on ideas that are around me,” said junior Laine Banziger. 

     “As a person, it has made me a lot more comfortable in front of large audiences and helped my skills with argumentation and writing in general,” agreed junior Claire Kinderwater

     When asked about whether they would recommend the activity to others, students enthusiastically agreed. “I think that speech and debate is a great place to meet people and become a better speaker yourself and looks really great on college applications,” said junior Ellie Dula. 

     “I think any personality type and any interest can find an event that fits them in speech and debate and will get a lot of benefits out of being within speech and debate,” agreed Kinderwater. In addition, “I understand that it is not for everyone,” reminded freshmen Elliotte Banziger.

     The people within Speech and Debate discussed the impact within their school community. “This helped me make friends outside of Hellgate and around the whole state. My high school experience would have been very different without Speech and Debate in my life,” said Kim. 

     “Speech and Debate has forced me to talk to more people around me and has helped me a lot in that aspect of life,” said Elliotte Banziger. 

     “I consider everyone who’s on the team to be my friends now and I am happy that I was able to lead speech and debate into this new area of Hellgate being really successful,” voiced Kim. 

     Hellgate students attended their final Speech and Debate tournament this weekend in Missoula. On February 10th and 11th, they competed for a place at Nationals, held in Phoenix, Arizona this year. Three students from Hellgate were able to qualify for Nationals last year and 5 students qualified this year.