by Peter Quinn (Head Coach)
In my opinion, Speech & Debate is the most valuable experience a young person can have. Speech and Debate (also known as Forensics) is a co-curricular activity that blends academic achievement, public speaking, acting & interpretation, argumentation, advocacy, and listening skills together in a competitive environment. (If you are interested in what exactly we do and what our events are, please continue to browse through our event guide and information tabs.)
As an activity, it is both individual and team-based. Our students belong to one school-wide team, but branch off from that in a variety of different events, all with a distinct flavor and skill-set. We celebrate our team’s successes, the successes of two-person teams, and successes of single debaters and speakers equally. Our Hall of Fame here on the website and our trophy cases at RHS can testify to this – but often the most important celebrations are the ones we have together, as a team.
Speech & Debate is also an activity that somehow manages to simultaneously instill both intense competitiveness and unshakable camaraderie. Students who compete in speech and debate tell us time and again that one of the most rewarding aspects of their experience are the lasting relationships they form – with teammates, fellow competitors from around the state and nation, coaches, and judges. As an educator, I have seen firsthand the positive social effects that speech and debate affords every student. It provides a safe, fun, competitive environment for kids to grow into their activity and their place in the world.
Boiled down, this is an activity with benefits too numerous to list, though I will certainly try. It will make students smarter; better analytic and critical thinkers; more articulate and expressive; socially responsible; competitive; and most of all, more interesting people.
I would not dedicate such large chunks of my own time and energy into coaching these young adults unless I truly believed that speech and debate produces a higher-quality human being. In an age where education has been reduced to test scores, statistics, rubrics, and a focus on “products”, what could be more refreshing than an activity whose sole focus is improving quality of life?
No other activity can boast what we can – we mold kids into interesting and intelligent young adults. If there is a better reason to do any activity, well, I’d love to hear it.