Spartan Speech: A closer look at the East Speech and Debate team, what it means to its members


Photo by Nick Herinke

The 2020-2021 Spartan speech team.

Since the school opened in 1967, the Spartan Speech and Debate team has been beating records and producing educated speakers into the world. Hot off the heels from their success at the State Speech competition, East speakers talk about the team and look forward to next year’s challenges.
A few weeks ago the team competed against the state’s best in the NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association) State speech tournament. East had four students in finals and two ranked in the top five in their events. Sophomore Kenzie Jurrens is a state champion in informative speaking and first year speaker Harper Allen received fifth place in serious interpretation.
Now in case you don’t do speech and debate, it is competitive speaking. Speakers memorize poems, dramatic or serious scripts, humorous scripts, as well as informative and persuasive ones. They then perform their pieces with interpretations in front of an audience and a judge. Those judges then rank that speaker from 1 – 5. If you get first, then you make your way to finals where you are judged in front of several judges and potentially dozens of spectators. Scripts always have a general message and/or opinion that they are trying to tell. Competitors are judged on personality, performance, and overall message. Each competitor gains points for each performance. The higher you get in rounds, the more points you gain. And whatever school has the most points at the end of the tournament, wins.
For some people, this is a nightmare come to life, but not for everyone. “It changed me into a more confident person,” first year speaker Harper Allen said. Speaking forces you out of your shell if you have any hope in succeeding. “I’m looking forward to next year because I’ll be on varsity… That means that I can help people out of their shells.”
The team is very important to the competitors. Both Jurrens and Allen said that they are a close group that relies on each other. Group coaching and critiquing helps them get better than before. “I could not have done this without loyalty to the team,” Coach and sponsor Nick Herink said. “This team has a legacy… and to not give everything to it would be uncongenial.”
Although East is one of the fiercest speech teams in the state, what the team cares about most is helping their teammates succeed as well as succeeding individually. It doesn’t really revolve around winning as it’s about being better than your last performance.