CHS speech team going against ‘best of the best’

Carson High School students Kyle Allen, Mason Tims, Abigail Cook, Penelope Truell, Viviana Castro and Emily Tran will compete in the 2023 National Speech and Debate Tournament taking place June 11 to 16 in Mesa, Ariz.

Carson High School students Kyle Allen, Mason Tims, Abigail Cook, Penelope Truell, Viviana Castro and Emily Tran will compete in the 2023 National Speech and Debate Tournament taking place June 11 to 16 in Mesa, Ariz.

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The seniors on Carson High School’s speech and debate team have one last chance to make their mark when they travel to the 2023 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Mesa, Arizona from June 11 to 16.

Six of speech coach Patrick Mobley’s students are preparing for their various events after pursuing some “last-chance qualifiers” to get to nationals, team members said.

Last year, the national tournament hosted 6,425 students from 1,562 schools with 3,778 judges taking part. This year, nationals are expecting about 6,000 student competitors from 2,000 schools.

From Carson High this year, junior Emily Tran and senior Penelope Truell will compete in program oral interpretation, compiling various sources, including articles, poems and scripts, into a program based on a topic of their choosing. Tran is focusing on the traumas Vietnamese immigrants and refugees have faced entering the United States, while Truell is examining the mental health and society impacts of drug addiction and overdose.

Senior Mason Tims is participating in extemporaneous commentary. Competitors are given a topic, whether domestic or foreign. They have 30 minutes to make a case about it, create a speech and memorize and present personal anecdotal evidence for it.

For the second year, senior Abigail Cook will try for dramatic interpretation. She is covering the book “Good Morning, Monster” by therapist Dr. Catherine Gildiner that approaches sexual abuse, borderline personality disorder, self-mutilation and other sensitive subjects.

Cook, who described herself as being on a prior losing streak, said she finally feels like she’s going out on a “high note” by qualifying for Phoenix.

“I started the year first with, ‘I lost, I lost, I lost,’ ” she said. “I never lost my love for debate. It sucked, in short. My senior year, I was completely failing. I was really scared going into district (tournaments) … but I feel like I’m going out on a high note after such a long losing streak.”

Mobley added, “What she’s failed to mention is she’s already been to one national tournament this year and she qualified. For the American Legion, she’s represented Nevada at the national level, and that was two weeks ago in Indiana?”

Junior Viviana Castro will try for domestic extemporaneous commentary in which she’ll provide a five- to seven-minute oration on a topic ranging from U.S. politics, business or economic situations or the environment. dramatic interpretation performance,

Freshman Kyle Allen, although he didn’t qualify for the national stage, said he will be competing in the supplementals in Phoenix, in the extemporaneous debate, which is similar to Castro’s domestic extemporaneous commentary category. He will have 30 minutes to prepare a case and debate on the spot, he said.

The national tournament as a whole differs from most regional or state competitions as they’re going against more than just their zones.

“It’s the best of the best on the most competitive stage in one of the most competitive national events,” Truell said. “We’re raising the stakes, and what’s really cool about this year is we’re taking more people like Kyle and Vivi so we can honestly advance multiple people to get more experience.”

As this team prepares for its June tournament, the team is looking to its handoff and recruiting for interest in new members, which includes designating Castro as the new team captain and Allen as co-captain.

“My goal is mostly I want to make major changes to our middle school division,” she said. “I want to make sure this environment is way more collaborative for the club and class. I want to bridge the idea that speech and debate is everything that you put into it, and most of all I really want our team to freaking win.”

To help cover its expenses getting to the fundraiser, the team is looking to raise approximately $10,000 to cover travel, lodging and competition. It will also host its second annual Debatable Extravaganza on May 26 in the CHS Tech Center on the campus at 1111 N. Saliman Road. The event is a dinner theater show highlighting the team’s success, national qualifiers and community supporters. Guests will be able to get a taste of debate by interacting with and questioning members of the debate team and seeing exhibition events and performances by the national qualifiers.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. There will also be a raffle at the exhibition with a range of prizes from local businesses. Anyone with questions can contact Mobley at


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