“I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the students. My wife & 15 year old daughter came for the last debate and were amazed."
Ecstatic Sophomore - Naomi S My mom was made me join the club, and I really didn't want to. During my first debate round I cried, I didn't know what to say at all and had tons of time left to speak. By the end of that year I was running out of time and still had more things to say. Speech and debate has helped me a lot. I have become comfortable speaking in public and in fact earlier this I won 1st place at a local speech contest. I would have never been able to do that if it weren't for club. My mom no longer has to make me do it cause now I absolutely LOVE IT. Speaking isn't the only great part. The tournaments are so much fun and I've made so many new friends. I'm so glad that my mom made me do this.
I swore I'd pay my Mom back - Shira S I spent my entire first year at club plotting ways to pay back my evil mother for forcing me to join the club. I was so terrified at speaking in public that I would barely speak to people when they greeted me, and I started crying the first time I had to give my speech in club. I reluctantly agreed to join our club for a second year and that is when the magic happened - I fell in love with speech. I love the wonderful friends I've made through speech and debate. When we're at a tournament, all the competitors are kind and supportive. Yes, we're competing against each other, but competitors feel it is more important to help each other. Where else will you find this mindset?
This is my third year and not only am I doing two platform speeches, I am also doing a limited prep speech and a duo interpretation where you have to *gasp* ACT. I've gained so much confidence that for my Girl Scout Silver Award, I taught a computer class to a bunch of girls and I presented to the entire troop and to parents.
Now the only way I want to pay my mother back, is by hugging her hard and thanking her.
Speech & debate changed my Aspie's life - Tina S. I signed my son up for speech and debate as a sophomore language arts credit, and more importantly, to help him get over his fear of speaking in public.
He didn’t just have a fear of standing at a podium and speaking in front of large crowds; when he was in public and private school, he could not respond when called on, no matter how well he knew the answer, and in everyday life, he could barely return a greeting if someone said hello to him, even someone he'’d known for a long time.
My son is on the autism spectrum. He was not happy with me for signing him up, and at the beginning of the school year, he tried to shrink into his seat and steadfastly refused to practice his speech in front of the class. In debate, he was forced to the front and spent his speech time tripping all over himself and slinking back to his seat, but he was speaking. By the end of the first semester, he was finally goaded to the front of the room to deliver his speech, which he gripped tightly in his hands, and after a few tense minutes of shuffling his feet and not opening his mouth, with the class, parents, and coaches encouraging him, he opened his mouth and raced through his speech as fast as he could – he did it!
I honestly thought he would only want to attend the mandatory minimum one tournament, but after that first tournament in January, he was hooked and went to three more in quick succession! He was socializing and making friends like he’d never been able to before. Our goal was never to “break” to finals and go to regionals. I simply wanted him to be more comfortable speaking in all settings. He never got off script on his informative speech that year, and he and his debate partner never won more than two rounds at a tournament, but as the season wore on, he became more and more comfortable speaking. A teammate who had to go up against him and his partner in debate at a tournament thought it would be an easy round based on what she’d seen of my son in club early in the season. When he opened his mouth to speak in cross examination and all of his speeches, she was astounded at his improvement and his confidence.
After the season was over, we saw the best results of all. Speech and debate had affected every aspect of his life for the better. He participated in Model United Nations and voluntarily took the podium to address his assigned country’s issues in front of a packed room! He was elected as one of the key leaders in his Boy Scout troop and chosen by his peers for the Order of the Arrow.
As a competitive chess player, I could never get him to analyze his games with his opponents after they were over, a key aspect of chess improvement, because he was too afraid to talk. He started happily communicating with his opponents in post-game analysis and participating more actively in his lessons with his coach, and he went on to win the Amateur state champion title!
In everyday life, he was suddenly very outgoing and social, and if I was in a conversation with a random adult, he’d wait politely and then join the conversation with an ease I had never seen before. He is obsessed with international relations and wants to pursue a career as a Diplomat. A Diplomat! Never in a million years did I think he would overcome his autism to the extent that he would pursue a career that required such refined communication skills. People who meet him today can’t even believe he is on the spectrum. My son is a totally different child today, and we really owe it all to speech and debate.