Dear Speech and Debate Families,
Welcome to the 2020-2021 Speech and Debate season!
What an indescribable time we are experiencing! In a world of such profound sadness, loss and disappointment, we are happy to report that speech and debate will forge ahead in a virtual world. Local, Colorado tournaments will exist every weekend online and there should prove to be opportunities to compete virtually in other states as well. With this news, GW Speech and Debate is making plans to embrace this “new normal”. As you probably already know by now, year long classes will be compressed into a semester. Which means students will only be enrolled in the class one semester, but can continue to access coaching, support and competition throughout the year.
For those of you who are new, this is an exciting journey and we are so glad you are becoming part of our organization. I firmly believe that Speech and Debate is the best extra-curricular activity available to high school students. It provides so much more than strong speaking skills, although it does do this and does it well! Speech and Debate students ultimately become better readers and writers. They develop critical thinking skills that will set them apart; their research skills are refined and unsurpassed. They learn how to manage their time wisely and efficiently. All of these strengths help them become better students and they often begin earning higher grades. Research even shows that they out-perform their peers on standardized tests. Additionally, Speech and Debate provides a built-in support structure of friends and mentors. Students frequently form life-long friendships with other speech students, some from other schools in Colorado or even with competitors outside the state. Lastly, colleges and universities have indicated that Speech and Debate is the number one activity they consider when determining which candidates to admit.
In the 10+ years I have been at GW, the team has come a long way. In the fall of 2006, my first year, there was barely enough new interest to fill two classes. Today, there are five very full classes and GW is recognized as both a state and national powerhouse. In the Spring of 2011, two of our GW graduates, Sam Clark and Miles Owens, captured the national title in Policy (CX) Debate and won the National Forensic League NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. The 2019 Nationals tournament was also a high point as McKenna Daly won the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in Expository speaking. We are very proud of these achievements and look forward to adding to them.
The success of our team would not have been possible without the tremendous support of students and their families. In fact, I was initially attracted to the job at GW because I could sense something special about the parents and students I met during my interview. Now I can say that without a doubt the parents and students are the reason I have chosen to stay at GW and are why I look forward to all of my speech classes and tournaments. I still definitely need all of your help and support. Some may think we have “arrived,” and no longer need assistance, but in many ways the work has just begun. With budget cuts and not much support from the district, we need everyone’s efforts in order to continue to grow and move forward. Please consider helping where and when you can. We are always in need of judges - it is not as daunting or scary as it may sound! Consider volunteering to help on a committee or at one of our events. I understand that everyone has different constraints on their time and may be pulled in any number of directions, but if possible, look at doing what works for you and your schedule.
I am mourning along with you that we are not going to be returning to school face to face and that the start of the year rituals we have grown to know and love will either not happen or will be radically altered. I believe, however, that together we can make this unfortunate time as strong an experience as possible. I speak for both Devin and Miles when I say that we will work extremely hard and outside the box to keep speech and debate going and even thriving! Please keep in touch and reach out with questions and concerns.