Carson High qualifies 7 for national speech tourney

Seven Carson High students qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament. From left (back row) are junior Penelope Truell, freshman Olivia Van Reese, senior Jessica Knutson, junior Abigail Cook, sophomore Viviana Castro and speech teacher Patrick Mobley with senior Ryan Soulier in the front. Knutson holds a Zoom conference with coach Niki Clinger-Mobley. Not pictured is senior David Mariscal-Gonzales.

Seven Carson High students qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament. From left (back row) are junior Penelope Truell, freshman Olivia Van Reese, senior Jessica Knutson, junior Abigail Cook, sophomore Viviana Castro and speech teacher Patrick Mobley with senior Ryan Soulier in the front. Knutson holds a Zoom conference with coach Niki Clinger-Mobley. Not pictured is senior David Mariscal-Gonzales.
Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal

Seven Carson High School students have qualified for the 2022 National Speech and Debate Tournament, June 12 to 17 in Louisville, Kentucky.
The team, coached by husband-and-wife teachers Patrick Mobley and Niki Clinger-Mobley, needs to raise $2,100 to $2,500 for expenses per student.
Students include seniors Jessica Knutson, David Mariscal-Gonzales and Ryan Soulier; juniors Abigail Cook and Penelope Truell; sophomore Viviana Castro; and freshman Olivia Van Reese.
Mobley said about 6,000 students from 1,500 schools will take part in Louisville, with all to be guaranteed six rounds of competition. Each round has two judges for students to be voted “up” by a minimum of eight judges. Students can make the top 60 and will place in the elimination rounds. Those who do not advance in their primary event can compete in supplemental or consolation events such as impromptu speaking, storytelling or extemporaneous debate, according to Mobley.
At the district level earlier this year, Truell placed third in the Big Questions Debate category, a format dealing with topics addressing how science, philosophy and religion intersect, and she discussed how society benefits from religious beliefs and practice.
Cook qualified in two events and placed first in the Lincoln-Douglas debate. But since she can only take one speech to nationals, she chose her Dramatic Interpretation performance addressing bulimia for which she placed second in the district.
“Every debate is completely different,” Cook said. “You’re never going to get a copy-and-paste debate, so you walk in never knowing what to expect. You never know if this is going to be the hardest one you ever debate or it’s going to be a piece of cake and if you’re going to demolish (your opponent) in two seconds.”
Not offered at the local level is a World Schools debate, but the Carson group is preparing for the national tournament. World Schools is a three-vs.-three format with prepared and impromptu topics and speakers argue for or against a motion. Knutson said seniors typically are chosen for World Schools since it’s their last opportunity to participate.
Castro said by taking speech with Mobley, she doesn’t only learn facts but critical and creative thinking and logic skills that demonstrate how to develop a worldview through a different lens.
“When you debate things, you’re forced to debate the affirmation and the negation,” Castro said. “You don’t just get to say advocacy is good or objective is better. You have to say both, which means you have to be able to see every single scenario in your life from both sides, even if one side doesn’t match your beliefs. And that’s probably why we all get along so well, even if we have different beliefs.”
Soulier said this particular group was made up of all levels of students trying to improve their speech skills.
“So if you’ve ever heard someone say something like, ‘Ah, speech that doesn’t seem that difficult, speaking is easy,’ there’s a lot to it that people don’t understand … and there’s a lot of work that many people do to get to a point like this (the tournament),” Soulier said.
Clinger-Mobley, a program specialist for the Children’s Cabinet, has been coaching Carson High’s speech and debate students since 2016. She also competed herself when she was in high school.
“It’s a nice way to give back to the community,” she told the Appeal. “It’s changed so much since I was a kid. I feel like (speech and debate) was one of the best things a student can do. So many people have a crippling fear of public speaking, but it made me feel so much more comfortable in my own skin.”
Watching her more timid students develop their confidence at any level in their high school careers is one of the best parts of coaching, Clinger-Mobley said.
“Abigail, Ryan and Jessica were some of the quietest of my freshmen,” she said. “Abi would meagerly look over her computer whenever she’d hear her name because she didn’t want to speak or feel comfortable in her own abilities.”
Van Reese placed second in the Program Oral Interpretation category at district. Van Reese spoke on homophobia after observing advocacy locally and nationally against the issue.
“It feels good, it’s kind of hectic,” she said about going to the tournament. “I learned a lot from everyone and from my peers. It all comes together. … And I think … we will slay!”
Truell said the team has been thankful working with Mobley and Clinger-Mobley getting them ready for the national stage come June.
“It’ll be really cool because they’ll get to show all of their skills they have acquired throughout speech and debate and get to test their skills in a completely new environment,” Truell said. “Because for all of us, every single thing that we are doing is very complex and we need to have it perfected … by the time we’re going to nationals because we want to have the biggest chance of success. … Who doesn’t want to walk up on the stage a national champion?”
Fundraisers include the Debatable Extravaganza from 5:30 to 8 p.m. May 6 in the CHS Tech Center. The event features dinner, raffle prizes, interactive performances and presentations from the national qualifiers. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
The Big Questions tournament from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 7 also takes place at CHS. Mobley said recruitment for judges from the community is going on now and offers an opportunity to see debaters in action and learn about the school’s program.
The team also has a GoFundMe page entitled “Carson High Debate Nationals 2022” for anyone who would like to contribute online.
For information, contact Mobley at pmobley@carson.k12.nv.us.
The National Speech and Debate Association’s website is www.speechanddebate.org.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment