Debate team wins state championship
SNOHOMISH - Snohomish High School’s speech and debate team has done it again.
The worldly wordsmiths beat 40 teams to win the 4A team state Championship in Speech by a large margin earlier this month. Last weekend, the team took home nine awards from the state Debate Competition as well.
The Panthers have placed in the top five at state five times in the past six years, team advisor Bill Nicolay said.
The students’ work ethic was what Nicolay said made him the most proud this year.
Traveling to New York City, Berkeley, Indianapolis, Baltimore and San Francisco, “most of them get to see a lot of the country and they make a lot of friends across the state and across the country,” Nicolay said.
Three-time state finalist Shannon Harris, a senior and team president, said interacting with like-minded people is what she enjoys the most about being a part of Speech and Debate. It can be hard to find other teens who follow world events, understand philosophy and are interested in learning about politics, she said.
Nicolay said the camaraderie is a big draw for new members.
“It’s a very close-knit team,” he said. “A lot of kids just like the challenge of it. It’s not something that everybody can do and I think that appeals to them.”
A lot of the kids go to several speech and debate practices every day during the season, Harris said. They have tournaments almost every weekend December through March, and spend 25 to 30 hours a week practicing, which is on top of all their regular schoolwork, Nicolay said.
Harris said she thinks that’s why her team earned the title this year, “because there were so many people who really wanted it.”
The team was especially strong in congressional debate and extemporaneous speech (a political speech with limited time for preparation), Nicolay said.
Harris placed in the top five in those events, and she also took second place in the Erik Helppie Awards.
The two-person “duo” team also did well, taking first and second at state.
Seven of the team’s 43 members are going to nationals in June in Indianapolis.
The team is hosting a talent show to raise money to send the kids to Indiana. The talent show is Friday, April 20 at the First Presbyterian Church. Event organizer Joyce Chambers can be reached at 425-610-4710 for more information. The individuals who qualified for nationals this year are junior Jamis Barcott, sophomore Alex Sapadin, junior Anna Pisac, sophomore Kellen Potocsnak, junior Liam Potocsnak, junior Max Zinkand and junior Meg Chambers. “We have a lot of people on the team who have a lot of raw talent despite the fact that they’re really young,” Harris said. “They pour their whole life into this.”
By STEPHANIE KOSONEN
Published March 21, 2012