Showing off the speech team


Morghan Davis

Sophomore Maddie Mezzell performs at the Speech and Debate showcase. The performers practiced for weeks individually for several days before the showcase.

The speech and debate department hosted the Value of Speech Showcase Thursday to exhibit students’ forensics skills. The showcase featured six different speaking events and three distinct debate events and also functioned as a fundraiser.

“We have the showcase as part of the Value of Speech so we can promote what speech and debate does for students, parents and the community,” speech and debate teacher Rory McKenzie said. “The performances are the lesser known aspect of speech and debate. It’s naturally based for an audience, so it makes sense in the context of a showcase, and I think that people appreciate the ability of the students to play different characters, memorize that much dialogue and all the blocking that goes into it.”

The occasion began with a welcome from  Jonas Thrasher-Evers, speech and debate president and was followed by a presentation of an oral interpretation by Samantha Rodden. Junior Mattison Payne then performed a prose interpretation of the piece “True North.”

“It felt good to be able to represent the team and to really let others know just how much debate means to everyone,” Thrasher-Evers said. “Showcases allow us to have the resources to continue to travel and compete. It’s an opportunity to let the community know just how big debate really is, [and] what all it encompasses and how seriously we take it.”

Rather than an interpretation, Evan Bewersdorf gave an extemporaneous speech that informed the audience of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s plans for the future of Texas education. Maddie Mezzell then performed a dramatic interpretation as a return to the theatrics.

“It was very different than what I’ve done before, but it was like acting on stage,” Mezzell said. “Obviously it’s different from a tournament because you see the judge’s reaction as opposed to you can’t really see the audience’s reaction.”

Following a discussion of the different types of debate events by Ronak Desai, Ashley Ray and Corban Sorrells, there was an original oratory from Ashlyn Elgass and a choral reading from a group of Debate I students. A humorous interpretation by Elizabeth Tagg concluded the performances.

“We always go to these tournaments in Dallas and Houston, and no one really in our area ever sees what we do,” Tagg said. “I feel it’s important to showcase the Speech and Debate team’s talent not only as a reason to get us out there but also to give individual students an opportunity to say who they are.”