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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

Speech and Debate Showcase: Highlights from team’s first annual event

Becky Smith
Sophomore Beau Heese and local attorney Carolyn Buschjost debate at the first annual Speech and Debate Showcase.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, Rolla High School’s Speech and Debate team kicked off the year with the first annual Speech and Debate Showcase at Ozark Actors Theatre. Rather than traveling for hours to see their children perform, parents had the idea to create a showcase in Rolla so everyone could see the students’ skills firsthand. The Speech and Debate Showcase participants include juniors Kate Arnold, Kaitlyn Koob, Audrey Smith, and Ella Veo. Also competing were sophomores Jake Green, Logan Loughridge, and Beau Heese, as well as local attorneys Scott McBride, Bryce Crowley, and Carolyn Buschjost. 

A dramatic interpretation by Veo was followed by a public forum debate with attorneys Crowley and McBride vs Green and Loughridge. A public forum debate is where pairs of people debate both the affirmative and negative sides of a topic that is based on current events, then engage in questioning periods and rebuttals with limited time to prepare. The resolution of this public forum debate was “Resolved: Right to work laws do more harm than good.” The students debated on the negative side and the attorneys on the affirmative side. 

Loughridge confidently spoke to the issue, beginning the evening’s first formal debate with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, followed by his side’s assertion.   

“If the government implements right to work laws, they not only harm the middle class, but they will damage the unions of people who have come together,” stated Loughridge. 

In contrast, McBride and Crowley argued pro-right to work laws, contending that these laws are beneficial because they promote freedom, including freedom of speech and worker well-being. 

“If there were laws that promoted unity in the workplace, promoted economic growth, and promoted worker satisfaction and well-being, shouldn’t we enact and support such laws?” challenged McBride.

The last event of the night was a Lincoln-Douglas debate with attorney Buschjost vs Heese. In contrast to public forum debates, Lincoln-Douglas debates tend to focus on ethical questions. This one-on-one debate focused on the resolution, “Resolved: In the United States, Supreme Court Justices ought to be term-limited.” Buschjost debated the negative and Heese debated the affirmative. 

“The Supreme Court Justices in the United States endure their appointment with life tenure, but this lifetime appointment significantly impacts the increasingly politicized appointment process and the legal realism of those results,” stated Buschjost. 

Heese matched Buschjost’s rhetoric with his own strong claims in favor of lifetime terms for Supreme Court Justices. 

“The Supreme Court was established as a way to interpret the Constitution and its applications according to the expert legal knowledge of the nine Justices who sit upon it… We cannot amend the United States Constitution to implement term limits for Supreme Court Justices,” explained Heese. 

Rolla High School’s Speech and Debate Team has flourished the past year and a half, and the accommodations are growing along with their opportunities. For instance, the Speech and Debate team will be hosting districts this year. Speech and Debate Coach Patrick Brooks encourages the community to help in any way possible. 

“If you would, we would love to have [people] on the list to judge, or at least even think about judging… and if you could find it in your heart to donate, we would very much appreciate it,” said Brooks. 

[An extended version of this article will appear in the first print publication of the 2023-24 school year.]

First Annual Speech and Debate Showcase
Left to Right: Sophomores Logan Loughridge and Jake Green with local attorneys Bryce Crowley and Scott McBride
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About the Contributor
Olivia Johnson
Olivia Johnson, Staff Reporter
Hi, I’m Olivia. I’m a junior, and this is my first year on ECHO. In my free time I enjoy reading, listening to music, and watching movies.