Speech and debate prepares children for the future

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GILBERT, Ariz. -- The No. 1 fear in America is public speaking. And as a parent, you may never have thought about the speech and debate team for your child, but it can help develop a life-long skill.

“Whether the weather be cold,” the chant started quietly and grew in intensity inside Mesquite High School in Gilbert.

The class was getting the mind and mouth warmed up and ready to take a stand. The speech and debate team takes on current contentious topics and subjects worthy of more discussion.
“To make things really interesting,” team president Gabby Luu said, “you have to look at it from all sorts of perspectives, from all different angles, outside of the box, inside of the box, turn box upside down.”
Luu is a first-generation American and hopes to be a surgeon someday. She says she liked the research and giving speeches from the first day she joined the team, but she admitted her parents worried it would interfere with her other studies.
“They were afraid it was going to be too much,” she said. “They pushed me to quit, but speech and debate was something special to me.”
“You should be listening and be ready to ask questions,” teacher and coach Cassie Alber told the class.
Alber believes parents and students sometimes miss out because of perceptions about debate team.
“If you can get your kids in a class like this,” Alber said, "where they're participating and competing and getting comfortable speaking, then that fear dissipates, and it'll put them that much further ahead in life.”
Alber said her class isn't just for honor students. She has students from all tracks who need to be able to communicate, whether they go to college or directly into the workforce.
“There's acting, there's speaking and there's debating,” she said. “So there is something for everyone.”
Students have to know their subjects and be able to defend their positions.
Luu believes the ability to communicate effectively will be priceless.
“I definitely will use the skills I’ve learned from speech and debate for the rest of my life,” she said.
At Mesquite High School, speech and debate is a class, but also a team competing the entire school year. They are competing this weekend against teams from across the state.