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Two compete at speech nationals


Two competitors from the Hot Springs County High School Speech and Debate Team returned on Sunday from the National Tournament in Dallas, Texas.

The tournament features 1,299 schools from all 50 states plus several foreign countries, totaling 7,105 competitors vying for that coveted National stage appearance.

Hannah Hu competed in Informative Speaking, a relatively new event to the circuit. While Hu placed third, fourth or fifth in all six of her preliminary rounds, it wasn’t quite enough to make it into the top 60 semi-finals.

Hu competed against 236 other students with a personally written program on beauty that took a different look at how we perceive beauty through art, comparing our perception with other countries and the scientific reasons we see beauty the way we do.

Breeze Petty competed in Congressional Debate on the senate side of the chamber. In all, there were 204 other “senators” that Petty was up against in an event that is run exactly like the senate on a national level, complete with bills they argued either for or against.

Petty performed well through three preliminary sessions for a total of nine-and a half hours of argument.

Along with competition, the pair was able to hear a spectacular speech from Dr. Thomas Freeman, a former teacher of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Freeman turns 100-years old this year and was still able to touch the thousands of young people in the audience, bringing them to their feet by the end of his comments.

“I cannot tell you how very proud I am of these girls,” said coach Cindy Glasson. “They not only competed against the best of the best, they came out showing that Wyoming can definitely hold their ground against anyone.

“I would sincerely like to express my thanks to all of those who donated to this team to ensure the girls were able to have this experience. Without the community’s help it would not have been possible.

“As a coach I always look forward to Nationals because it gives me the opportunity to see what other coaches are doing with their students and I always come home with all kinds of ideas running through my head on different types of pieces or different directions we can take the team in the coming year.”

“It is always a remarkable experience for coaches and competitors,” added coach Lyle Wiley. “As a coach, I think this week of competition and community is the place that I learn the most about our amazing and inclusive activity and how the HSCHS Speech and Debate team can grow and continue to raise our level of performance. 

“At this tournament, we get to watch the best of the best. It is inspirational. It is world opening. And every time I attend, I discover that our Wyoming Speech and Debate competitors can absolutely hang with the best competitors in the country. Breeze and Hannah did just that this week! They brought their best and competed, while learning a ton to bring back to our team. It was a fabulous experience.”

Yes, the days are long, the competitors get very little sleep and in Dallas, the temperatures as well as the humidity were something the group had to get used to, but the girls took a lot away from the experience.

“Speech and debate as a program has already helped me grow immeasurably as a speaker and person,” said Hu. “On the national level, being able to see how other people from a wide array of backgrounds participate in this activity was amazing.

“Even just in two days of competition I was able to gain a greater context of what this program is really about and what it can be. This experience has really motivated me and made me so excited for my last year of high school speech. I know it’s going to be a great season, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to the national tournament again!”

Petty said her comments about nationals are based on how much she learned from the experience.

“That learning came from not only a speech and debate aspect, but speaking and presentation as a whole,” she said. “Nationals was the most condensed and effective tool and learning experience I have ever had the ability to go to. The interactions I had with my fellow competitors not only gave me new ideas and tools on how to speak, but the level of competition at nationals really helped give me a new perspective on just how much better not only I can be, but our team can grow to be.

“That level was only amplified by speaking to and hearing feed back from other coaches, judges and spectators, whose input I would never have found anywhere but at that level and range of a competitive field.”


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