The Rock Bridge Invitational is the only tournament the Bruins host during the Speech and Debate season. The team solely runs the event and does not compete. 11 schools participated in the tournament. The two day competition started Friday, Feb. 8 at 4:45 p.m., and after many preliminary, quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds, it ended Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Civics Studies teachers Ben Niewoehner and Matt Johnson are the RBHS coaches.
Alongside the coaches are student leadership such as the co-captains, debate and event chairs and officers. Sophomore Justin Hahm is a co-chair of Policy Debate and competes in Policy and Congressional Debate.
To prepare as the host team, Hahm said tasks include getting the bracket organized and making sure competitors are checking in and coming on time.
During the Invite, sophomore Amira McKee helped run Registration, Public Forum and Original Oratory. She is the co-head of Original Oratory. McKee said students helped run the tournament based on their experience in an event as well as availability.
“I, along with the other 1-3 people working each table, was tasked with ensuring that judges and competitors were in their correct rooms and the tournament stayed on time,” McKee said. “It involved a lot of running around RB[HS] looking for judges who were missing from rounds.”
Like Hahm and McKee, freshman Carson Dale is a regular attendee to debate tournaments. At the beginning of the year, however, Dale said he was hesitant on joining the team.
“I felt extremely out of place and thought I didn’t have what it took to be competitive in debate,” Dale said. “After the first few meetings this feeling quickly went away and I started to make so many amazing friendships and learned many important values.”
As a student in the debate class, Dale said volunteering was a requirement, but he planned on helping regardless. Dale attributed the efficiency of the tournament to the team’s co-captains and said the stressful parts were quickly taken care of.
Besides Speech and Debate, McKee is also a member of RBHS’ Model United Nations (MUN). She said she wasn’t able to be very involved in the actual preparation of the tournament because she wasn’t initially planning on volunteering.
“The Model United Nations University of Chicago trip was scheduled for this weekend, but was cancelled because of the weather,” McKee said. “Although very disappointing, it was especially beneficial to the running of this tournament because most of our leadership is in MUN and many volunteers got sick shortly before the tournament. If the trip hadn’t been cancelled the tournament would have probably been severely understaffed.”
The team will compete again Feb. 15 and 16 at Marquette High School. The post-season tournaments begin with the Missouri State High School Activities Association Districts at Mexico High School March 1 and 2.
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Q & A with Megan Pullen: Speech and Debate co-captain
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