High school students very verbose this weekend
With dramatic hand gestures and deliberate enunciation, Sergio Ramirez drove his point home … to the wall. And he wasn’t alone.
Students filled Carson High School on Friday, many of them debating issues with no one in particular.
“That’s what we mostly do,” explained 14-year-old Ramirez. “We have to practice. I feel confident and silly at the same time doing it.”
The Carson High School freshman is among about 400 students from across the state competing in this weekend’s speech and debate tournament.
“It’s a big deal,” said Paul Mileo, Douglas High School coach and Northern Nevada Forensic Lead. “It’s definitely pretty big bragging rights.”
The state tournament rotates every other year from a school in the south to one in the north. Mileo said the last several years, the northern tournaments have been held in Reno.
“We wanted to get it into the capital,” he said. “It’s nice to have it at home. Our kids didn’t have to sit on a bus for eight hours. They woke up in their own beds this morning. That’s always going to be an advantage.”
Daniel Coffey, a 17-year-old junior from Green Valley High School in Henderson, is counting on that not being the case.
“I won state as a freshman and last year I placed in the top five,” he said. “I’m hoping to pull away with another victory this year.”
Julianna Powell, 15, felt the home-court advantage during her dramatic interpretation.
“I’ve been having some issues with timing lately, but I got the timing down just right this time,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s a good omen.”
The state competition is the last round before districts then nationals, if they qualify. That can bring added stress, said Carson High junior Christopher Johnson, 17.
“It tends to put more pressure on you,” he said. “You must compete so much better than usual because it’s so important.”
However, Carson High School senior Max Greb, 17, was trying not to let the pressure get to him.
“I’m trying to stay calm,” he said. “It’s my (last year) so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
Volunteers from the community are serving as judges for the tournament that began Friday and continues today.
Since her son competed in the event more than 10 years ago, Maud Naroll has been volunteering to judge local and state competitions.
She said her son learned as much or more from competing in speech and debate as from any of his English classes.
“These are some of the brightest kids,” she said. “Speech and debate kids give me hope for the next generation.”