Since last year, the speech and debate program has doubled in size, and the group is eager to accept new members. The team competes at UIL competitions and is coached by Alyson Neeley, and meet from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“There’s lots of room, we don’t have an audition process, there’s no tryout process. If you want to be on the team, you’d be on the team,” Neeley said. “You pay your dues and then you come to practice and then you’re on the team and you’re a part of our family. So even if you’re not the best speaker, you’re not the most confident, we want you on our team, we want to help you get better.”
Another group needing new participants is the oral interpretation team. There’s currently only one member, junior Zachary Feuling.
“Last year we had four people in this event and all but one of them has graduated, so we have a real opportunity for growth this year,” Coach Neeley said. “Oral Interp[retation] is more of an acting part, so you put together character pieces that really hone your skills as an actor, so essentially it’s an audition every tournament.”
Oral Interpretation is an event where actors can receive feedback on their performances from professional acting coaches, coaches that run theatre departments at other high schools, and others in the acting industry.
“It’s a really good opportunity to really hone your skills as an actor that isn’t necessarily in a play, it’s an audition or a monologue every tournament,” Neeley said.
Although speech, debate, and oral interpretation are three different groups, they share a class period and compete at the same tournaments.
“We all go together and all of the events happen at the same time so over the course of around nine hours on one Saturday, there will be like 30 different competitions,” Feuling said.
Students in the program compete in certain events, all catering to their different specialties.
“Policy is very politics heavy, it focuses on the here and now and what we need to change, the same with LD (Lincoln Douglas) except it’s a little more vague and opinion based,” speech and debate member Ian Smith said. “Then when we’re talking about informative, that’s where you just give a speech on any topic you like.”
Now a senior, Smith has participated in speech and debate since he was a freshman, and has watched the program evolve over the years.
“I’ve seen a lot of different people come come and go,” Smith said. “I’ve seen people join for like a week and quit the next, but I always see the people who do stick around, they always get better, they always get really good.”
A common misunderstanding about the team is that new members have to already be confident public speakers.
“You don’t have to be the most outspoken person in the room,” Neeley said. “Some of the most successful people on our team are people that sit in the back of the room and are quiet, and they have really strong, solid beliefs and things, and they really like to argue their point. They’re just not the most confident, and this is the perfect place to hone that. It’s the perfect place to realize that your opinion is valid and that everything you have to say or contribute to our class and our school and the world is valuable and beneficial.”
Interested in joining the speech, debate or interpretation team? Go to http://tchsdebateteam.blogspot.com/ or talk to Neeley in room M113.