Pioneer High School speech and debate team represents Carson City School District |

Pioneer High School speech and debate team represents Carson City School District

Jourdan Rowbottom
Jeremiah Beauford, PHS student, and Jourdan Rowbottom, PHS teacher.
Courtesy |

The first speech and debate tournament of the year is always an exciting and nerve-wrecking time. We started out the school year with some amazing recruitment efforts on the part of the few returning underclassmen we had recommit to compete this year. With our school’s annual overnight trip to Rock Creek and the first weeks of school, few competitors felt confident enough with the practice time put in to be able to successfully compete at the first tournament but we did have a small team of three ready and anxious to present to pieces for judgement.

On the eve of traveling to Elko High School for the first tournament of the season, which offered Panel A speech events (Storytelling, Domestic Extemporaneous, Informative, Dramatic Interpretation and Duo Interpretation), our team decreased by one less student.

Despite the obstacles, we still were able to load two PHS Panthers into the vans and head out onto the road to Elko.

Jeremiah Beauford competed for the first time in Dramatic Interpretation with a serious performance of the song “Steven” by Jake Miller as well as a representative in a student Congress house as a second year novice.

Participating in her first tournament was Autumn Rulapaugh who competed in Storytelling with her own rendition of “Rapunzel” and as a representative in a student Congress house.

Both Jeremiah and Autumn represented PHS with the highest of honors. In fact, Jeremiah placed second in round two of his Dramatic Interpretation.

“I was really excited to see my results. After competing for a year it felt rewarding to place second in one of my rounds, like all of my hard work paid off,” said Jeremiah.

Autumn was able to speak four times in her congress rounds which is really challenging especially at her first tournament.

“It was awesome when I gave my speeches and heard the Congress representatives knock in agreement at the arguments and ideas. It really encouraged me to get up and speak,” Autumn said.

Overall, the PHS speech and debate team brought back the positive feedback and vibes from the first tournament to help inspire the rest of our team.

During Dec. 9-10, the league held its final tournament of the semester at McQueen High School and PHS was able to send Jeremiah and Autumn again. This time around Jeremiah scored a third place in one of his rounds of impromptu on Friday.

Both speakers did well on Saturday in their Congress rounds but Jeremiah was able to give four speeches and earned the highest score on each one and the student Congress voted him second place. We even had the support of additional PHS staff member, Ms. Langum, who showed up and observed the first session.

Overall, we are going to take the important constructive criticism of the judges and our peers in preparing for the tournaments this spring. Even though Jeremiah is only a sophomore and debated for most of his two years at PHS, he is now preparing to compete at the senior debate level.

“It feels awesome that I have a second and third place trophy from the Reno High tournament,” Jeremiah said. “I am nervous for the senior debate but am confident that I can compete with the very best.”

We are hoping our team’s news helps to inspire more of our school’s team to focus on preparing and participating in the upcoming tournaments.

Jourdan Rowbottom is a Social Studies and Speech & Debate teacher at PHS.