Mastering Speech and Debate


Teresa Smith

Lincoln-Douglas debaters at McClintock HS tournament in Fall 2021. Simon Zolkiewski (11), Giselle Kennedy (11), Alex Boggs (12), Alex Britton (12)

Senior club president Alex Boggs, 3rd place winner in novice Lincoln-Douglas (Teresa Smith)

Pinnacle High School (PHS) offers so many clubs for students looking for a way to be involved, but many of the individual clubs are not given a proper spotlight. Speech and Debate remains active year after year as a club and competitive team.

 Despite what the name suggests, speech and debate offers more opportunities than simply speaking and arguing. 

“I hear from parents every year who want to know more about the club because they are sure their teen would be perfect for it because, as they put it, they love to argue,” said club co-sponsor Teresa Smith, PHS English teacher. “But it’s really so much more than just arguing.”

In fact, the club offers a variety of activities and different levels of commitment to meet the interests and needs of different students. Freshman Jack Lindstrom competed this year in Big Questions, a newer form of debate.

“Big Questions is a newer type of debate that quite a few of our members were really drawn to this year,” Smith said. “For this debate, they argued one topic all year from the lenses of philosophy, law, politics and sociology. It was interesting.”. 

Junior Giselle Kennedy, who competed in the more traditional Lincoln-Douglass debate, said that what people do in the club depends on the member. “Some of [the members] write cases and compete with other schools, while others come up with debates on their own [during club meetings],” said Kennedy. 

Membership in the club gives students skills that help them outside of school. 

“[The club] for sure helped. So many life lessons are learned in here. Like life lessons about how to use your voice and how to talk better,”  said sophomore Steven Adelson. 

Dr. Jason Jones, English teacher and one of the club sponsors, noticed changes in students involved in the club for some time. 

“A reason is that it shows [the members] trial and error. In our current generation we have kind of gotten away from that,” said Jones. “We are afraid to fail. [Speech and Debate] tells you, ‘you didn’t win, here is why.’ What that gives you are the tools to go back and improve.”

Speech and Debate offers members a fun, safe and close environment to learn and practice essential skills for their future.

Having fun at lunch on tournament day: Alex Britton (12), Alex Boggs (12), Simon Zolkiewski (11), Giselle Kennedy (11) (Teresa Smith)