As the end of the school year approaches in less than two months, reports of Peninsula School District student achievements are spreading far and wide.
Among those achievements are the Speech and Debate teams from both Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools.
The Gig Harbor High School Speech and Debate team dates back nearly to the opening of the school and has maintained a strong program, said Chris Coovert, the team coach for the past 17 years.
“It was definitely a strong season for the kids,” Coovert said. “We have a really strong group of kids this year that worked really hard. There was a lot of energy from them to push each other.”
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Gig Harbor High finished a strong season with a first-place finish for senior Nathan Edgar and junior Trevor Caragan in Dual Interpretation at the March 11 State Individual Event Tournament at the University of Puget Sound. GHHS sophmore Anna Frisk was named state champion in Expository Speaking at the same event.
It was definitely a strong season for the kids. We have a really strong group of kids this year that worked really hard. There was a lot of energy from them to push each other.
Chris Coovert, Gig Harbor High School Speech and Debate Team coach
The Tides team took first place at the Western Washington District Tournament of the National Speech and Debate Association and qualified a record 13 students to the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama in June.
Coovert has coached the team since 2000, with the help of assistant coach Kaelyn Holguin, who added to the team’s exciting year by giving birth to her first child shortly after accepting the first-place trophy.
The Speech and Debate team at Peninsula High School is a newer program compared to GHHS, having been around about a decade, but boasts a high level of energy and commitment from it’s students, said coach Kyle Kendall.
“We’ve got an amazing group of kids,” Kendall said. “The leadership and what they take on without me even asking is amazing.”
The PHS Public Forum Debate team of Jacob Settle and Alex Williams took first in the state debate tournament and qualified for the national tournament in June.
We’ve got an amazing group of kids. The leadership and what they take on without me even asking is amazing.
Kyle Kendall, Peninsula High School Speech and Debate Team coach
Kendall added that some members of the team have also started a model UN program at PHS and are participating in a collaboration with GHHS students to introduce Speech and Debate in nearby middle schools.
The value of student participation in Speech and Debate extends beyond good marks on a college application to more practical aspects, such as critical thinking and communication, that are applicable in everyday life, Kendall said.
“I’m mainly concerned with those life skills,” he said. “I want kids to be more confident … to do well in things that really matter.”
Coovert also sees practical application for students on his team, including increases in poise and confidence.
“The benefits for everyone is that it helps with their confidence and presentation skills,” he said. “It’s just helping them with poise and critical thinking.”