Carson High speech/debate students advance to nationals
The Carson High School Speech and Debate program is hosting a fundraiser next week to help send five students to the national tournament next month.
Seniors Kevin Avila and Alexis McKenzie, juniors Evan Cherpeski and Sadie Share and sophomore Rebecca Trejo will all be competing in Florida at the end of June with thousands of other students.
“It is exciting especially since I never thought we would get this far,” McKenzie said.
“This year we came and really stepped up our game,” added Avila.
This is the fifth year Carson has sent students to nationals, with the number of individuals attending increasing each year.
“It is great, it’s good to see the program growing and expanding,” CHS teacher Patrick Mobley said. “We have been sending larger groups in the past few years, when I first started we were only sending one or two and now we are sending five to six.”
Share is the first CHS student to qualify three times for nationals and this year she received the Academic All America status.
“That is only about 2 percent of debate students in the country who have done that,” Mobley said.
There are 25 students in the Speech and Debate program and each year the numbers continue to increase. For the students, the program has given them more than just an extracurricular activity, it has become another family for them.
“You get to meet new people you would have never thought you would have,” McKenzie said. “It has brought me out of my comfort zone and I get to have these people as my family.”
For Trejo, it also offers and opportunity to expand her learning.
“You learn a lot because you have so many cases on things that people don’t know much about,” Trejo said.
“We know more random facts than most,” Avila added.
At nationals, the students will compete in a variety of events from public forum to impromptu debates to the world schools debate. Each event is different, some students post arguments against one another, others they need to tell a story. For some events, students have a month to prepare their speeches; in other events they will have only two minutes to come up with their argument.
This year, while most of the students are expected to do well, Cherpeski and Share are predicted to dominate in their public forum event. Mobley said the duo is the team’s best shot at breaking into the top 60 teams.
“They are amazing, it wouldn’t surprise me if Evan and Sadie got first place,” said McKenzie.
For the students, the competition is exciting, but also nerve wracking.
“I am (nervous) because I don’t want to make a fool of myself,” Cherpeski said.
The tournament will be held June 16-23, but the students have only raised about $4,000 of their $7,500 needed for the trip.
To help offset the cost, the group will be hosting a Speech and Debate Spring Exhibition fundraiser on May 29. There, the students will present what they’ll do at nationals, as well as host a silent auction for a wine tasting, winery tour and more.
The event will be in the upstairs cafeteria at Carson High from 6 to 8 p.m.
To directly donate to the program, visit https://www.gofundme.com/chs-to-nats.