Suspenseful speeches

West Speech and Debate team tournament experiences


Graphic made by Joseph Potts with

If you want to be a part of the speech and debate team, you can go to room 238 before and after school.

Joseph Potts, Reporter

The season of the Speech and Debate team may have ended, but for junior Anton Kordick, it is only the beginning as he prepares for the national tournament this summer.

We had a very small team this year because we’ve had several students graduate the last two years, so we need to rebuild. The students we did have compete and learned from their experiences, and got better as the year went on,” language arts teacher and Speech and Debate coach Maggie Reitz said. ”We continued our streak to qualify at least one student to nationals, and this year Anton Kordick qualified to the national tournament, which is held in June in Dallas, Texas.”

Rietz went to school to be an English teacher, but she also wanted to teach speech. She did previously coach a Speech and Debate team during her time as a teacher in California.

“When the job at West High opened up, where I graduated from, I knew I wanted the job, which included teaching speech,” Rietz said. “So I had to get another endorsement to allow me to teach speech courses, which I was only one class from completing, so I did that after I was hired for Davenport.”

Kordick joined the Speech and Debate team because talking to people came to him naturally and he decided to act upon this by sharing his talents with the team.

Kordick was able to qualify for the national tournament after his performance at the East Iowa District Tournament at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin, Iowa.

He was also able to impress judges with three speeches about three different countries at the Bulldog Invitational in Bettendorf, Iowa. Kordick gave a speech in the International Extemporaneous Speaking category. His speech was about whether the European country Kosovo is self-sufficient enough to be its own nation.

“I researched. I read a lot of articles, and I just improvised a bit because that was one my events. I do Extem, which is like 30 minutes to prepare a speech based off a question,” Kordick said.

The tournaments to qualify for nationals the students participate in can last for two days. The first two rounds are held on the first day, and then continue to competing the following day. There are different types of tournaments to compete in.

Some tournaments are elimination tournaments, where students have to do well in the opening rounds in order to continue to in other rounds.

“In between rounds students socialize, practice, or prepare for other rounds. Many students become friends with others across the state, and even the nation because they compete with them so often throughout the year,” Rietz said.

Freshman Megan Dunn joined the Speech and Debate team because she was a big talker and her brother was previously involved in the team and encouraged her to join. Dunn enjoyed being on the team since she could be around people with similar interests. She has been in local tournaments before, with her first being here in Iowa.

“The first one I went to was here, and that was really scary because it was like my first one, so I was shaking. I didn’t do to great,” Dunn said. ”But my second one was actually the Iowa State Finals which was in Iowa City and that one I did much better at.”

Dunn has felt nervous about giving speeches, but ever since her first speech, she has gotten better. She said you would eventually get over your nerves. Dunn’s favorite part of Speech and Debate is giving the speech itself.

“Probably giving it in the moment because it’s kind of interesting what you can think of while your under pressure like that,” Dunn said. “Because sometimes you forget everything and you have to redeem yourself. So it’s kind of cool to see what your brain can think of in the moment.”

The Speech and Debate team thought that this season was doing well, with Kordick saying it was better than the last season. Kordick said his favorite part of Speech and Debate is meeting people and learning about things he never knew.

Rietz said her favorite part of Speech and Debate is giving students a challenge and watching them grow because most students come into the class fearing for the worst, since public speaking is a very challenging subject for many. But as time goes on, they realize it is not so bad.

“I get to see them grow from being a scared student to a more confident speaker,” Rietz said. “Communication is the number one skill employers are looking for, and the more practice and experience students have with speaking in public, the easier any kind of verbal communication will be from one-one-one discussions, to small groups to large audiences.”