Speech and Debate season recap


The speech and debate team celebrating after attending the North Canton Rotary Hoover Tournament.

Mirren Grimason, staff writer

Public speaking: arguably one of the most anxiety inducing parts of high school for teenagers. But for the 40 students on GlenOaks’ speech and debate team for the 2022-2023 season, this is a fear they have decided to face head on. 

With a new head coach and a team that has doubled in size from previous years,, the speech and debate team has faced many new challenges this season. However, success has come with these new challenges. 

Megan Rea is the head coach of the speech and debate team as of this year. She has been assistant coaching speech and debate for five years, but this is her first time being a head coach.

“One of our big goals was to create depth within the team and build a family,” Rea said. “I think that because we had so many returners, they were able to help the underclassmen with things they struggled on in past years which really helped the team become more connected.”

With the majority of participants being novices, varsity members have had to step up and help out the first year members in their categories.

“We had a lot of students, even as sophomores, step up and become leaders which is not something that happens quite often this early in their careers,” Rea said. 

Sophomore Valicia Peterman was the only varsity member in her category this season, leading her to take more of a leadership role within the others in dramatic interpretation. 

“My teammates never ceased to amaze me with how they compete and I don’t think I could be prouder of them,” Peterman said. 

JJ Lantz, a sophomore and novice in dramatic interpretation qualified to the national tournament which will take place in June in Phoenix, Arizona.

One of the teams’ biggest accomplishments this year is having so many members qualify for states. This year the speech and debate team had 19 state qualifiers, 9 of which were first year competitors. 

Senior and debate captain Caris Lantz helped coach many of the novice debaters and placed 3rd in state in Public Forum debate alongside her partner and vice captain, Bradley Mull. 

“I am really impressed with how we did this year considering how young of a team we are,” Caris Lantz said. “We had so many novices qualify to states which is usually unheard of and I am so proud of them.”

Ricky Talbott is a sophomore who competed in International Extemporaneous (IX) speaking last year and for most of this year. IX is a category in which participants are given a question and 30 minutes to research, write and memorize a 7 minute speech. He decided to compete in congressional debate for the last few tournaments of this season and ended up qualifying to states in congressional debate.

“My greatest accomplishment this season was being a senate congressional debate semifinalist at the state tournament,” Talbott said. “I did way better this year in Extemporaneous speaking compared to last year and discovered that I love congressional debate.” 

Johari Abdul Zahir is a freshman, novice competitor and student representative for the OSDA equity office. This means she represents the Ohio Speech and Debate Association by advocating for kindness and equality within the student body of speech and debate.

“Speech and debate has become a family for me and I am so fortunate to have connected with so many people I would not have met otherwise,” Abdul Zahir said. 

With such a diversely talented and large team, the speech and debate team has exemplified many accomplishments this season. The team place 23rd out of 83 teams at the state tournament.

While the speech and debate team had many successes within their state qualifiers and placers, the true success is the connection and family they have built this season.