Wa-Hi debate team scores in regional tournament


Walla Walla High School Debate Team members Russell Skorina, Anna Apostolidis-Morefield, Amelia Motts and Maggie Grant-Herriot, and adult volunteer Annie Capestany, hold trophies. Annie had Kendall Dunovant’s trophy while Kendall competed in finals.

Walla Walla High School Debate Team members Russell Skorina, Anna Apostolidis-Morefield, Amelia Motts and Maggie Grant-Herriot, and adult volunteer Annie Capestany, hold trophies. Annie had Kendall Dunovant’s trophy while Kendall competed in finals. Photo courtesy of Jean Tobin

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Several members on the Walla Walla High School Debate Team scored wins over a weekend in early December in Mead, Wash., at the Mount Spokane/Mead Debate tourney.

“This is a large and competitive tournament,” Coach Jean Tobin said. “I only traveled six students (who) earned their place on the van by meeting deadlines this fall as well as being successful at previous tournaments.”

There were too few Wa-Hi students competing to win team awards, but those who did “worked together and Wa-Hi was more successful in some areas than we have ever been in the past,” Jean said.

Junior Malcolm Gabbard found several Internet resources for the team to use so they could create a system to organize articles and quickly retrieve them from their computers. It made a difference in their ability to break into the finals rounds in big tournaments in extemporaneous speaking.

For this type of competition, the students must prepare a 7-minute speech within a 30-minute window using downloaded articles and magazines to speak about a news event that occurred within the last few months somewhere in the world, she said.

“Last year Kendall Dunovant, now a senior, was ninth in the state in this event, but never broke into finals. Because of this new system, for the first time ever we had a Wa-Hi debater in the finals round of open, the top level. Kendall placed second in extemp this weekend.”

Other successes in individual events were made by Russell Skorina, junior, first place, novice extemp; Amelia Motts, freshman, second, novice interpretive reading; Maggie Grant-Herriot, junior, first, open oratory; Anna Apostolidis-Morefield, junior, first places in open interpretive reading and open expository.

And another coach in the region approached Anna and told her she should compete in February for the Foley Tournament Speaker Award, the region’s most prestigious honor, Jean said.

Breaking into the finals in open congressional debate were Maggie, Russell, third place overall, and Anna. Maggie was one of two students elected to preside over the congress. Their parent-volunteer coach, Annie Capestany, works hard to help the debaters achieve success, Jean said. Annie also helps students in individual events.

Amelia, a novice, Malcolm and Kendall, had 3-2 winning records in LD debate.

“For me as a coach our top victory of the tournament was that Kendall made it to finals and ended up losing on a 2-1 decision to a debater from Central Valley. Kendall placed second in open LD. This is a huge success for our program and the first time we have ever had a debater in a finals round in open LD debate at a major tournament. This is the most competitive form of debate and has the most participants.”

Jim Hanson, a Whitman College rhetoric professor, volunteered to work with open LD debaters this fall. “His help in coaching Kendall and Malcolm is the reason they were so successful at this tournament. Jim also helped Malcolm, Kendall and Russell prepare in extemp speaking, another reason we did so well in that event at this tournament.

Debaters will next attend a tournament at the University of Puget Sound in the second weekend of January.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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