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CSD Hosts National Speech and Debate Tourney

The country’s best teen orators are in Salt Lake this summer vying for national titles in debate and public speaking.

Held annually since 1931, the National Speech and Debate Tournament is the largest academic contest in the nation with more than 3,300 high school students and hundreds of middle school students competing. It runs all week – June 12-17 – and is being hosted this year by Canyons School District, which is staging prelims and elimination rounds at several of its schools.

To qualify, students had to ply their rhetorical skills at district- and state-level contests. “These are some of the best and brightest in the country” – young people for whom texting, Tweeting and Facebook aren’t the only forms of communication, said Richard Fujimoto, a teacher who is fielding three students from St. Ignatius in Cleveland, OH. debate.jpg

Extemporaneous speaking, humorous interpretation, and policy debates are a few of the categories in which students compete. Also, new this year are: “Program Oral Interpretation,” which is a bit like performance art; and “Informative Speaking,” which is the only category where it’s OK to use props. 

Asked what motivated her to spend a week of her summer in a business suit, preparing for the equivalent of a major board presentation, Samantha Millison of Ohio said, “It’s fun.” Before taking speech at school, the 17-year-old says she was reserved and quiet. “Speech is kind of like family. It brings people together who wouldn’t necessarily be friends,” she says.

Learning how to frame an argument and capture an audience’s interest also are useful professional skills, says My’Kell McGee who plans to study political science at Indiana University, Purdue University Indianapolis.

CSD Instructional Support Specialist Leslie Robinett, says hosting the tournament is a coup for the district that’s enabling middle school-age students, who are too young to travel, to compete for the first time.

Preliminary rounds happen Monday and Tuesday with semi-finals later in the week and final match-ups on Friday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. A full schedule can be found online.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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