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Movers and Shakers

The speech and debate team hosted the largest tournament in Missouri.

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Movers and Shakers

Photo by Jenna Axsom.                   

Students from the 50+ schools that came to debate gathered to prepare in the Little Theater before their rounds.

Photo by Jenna Axsom. Students from the 50+ schools that came to debate gathered to prepare in the Little Theater before their rounds.

Photo by Jenna Axsom. Students from the 50+ schools that came to debate gathered to prepare in the Little Theater before their rounds.

Photo by Jenna Axsom. Students from the 50+ schools that came to debate gathered to prepare in the Little Theater before their rounds.

Paige Twenter

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The LHS Speech and Debate team traded in their suits and heels on January 13 and 14 for their red and black ‘Liberty Classic’ shirts to host the 13th annual tournament. For two days, the school was filled with competitors who were practicing, preparing, or sleeping.

Over the past few years, the LHS-hosted tournament has grown into a massive production, becoming the largest tournament in the state of Missouri. More than 50 schools traveled to the tournament, one from six hours away in West Plains, Missouri.

“Most other regions in the area canceled their tournaments for the weekend,” debate coach Tim Baldwin said. “We’re literally the only game in the state of Missouri for that weekend.”

The preparation for this large production starts all the way back in November when members of the Speech and Debate team are assigned roles working the tab room, facilities, information desk and hospitality, or being a monitor or ballot runner. After these roles are divvied out, then it’s off to judge recruitment and assigning room and hall monitors.

The tournament wasn’t only important to show off LHS’s organizing skills or to get a larger community involved, it was also an opportunity for the team to give back to the Speech and Debate community.

“The tournament is very important,” senior James Hirsch said. “It allows the team to contribute to the overall circuit. The team sacrifices a weekend of competition in order to give back to the circuit through allowing others to have a good experience.”

Since speech and debate is judged by volunteers from the community, the school that hosts is not allowed to participate/compete. The large event was accomplished solely through the teamwork and proactiveness of the team.

“We have a community where we all help each other and I think that’s what makes our team better than other teams,” Hirsch said. “We’re such a big, tight community. You can ask anybody for anything and there’s always somebody willing to help.”

The tournament has not only had an impact on the participants but also on the integrity of the hosting team.

“This tournament is very important because this establishes our credibility as a team,” junior Jake Kane said. “How well you run your own tournament determines how everyone else sees you.”

Sophomore Allison Allain has only been a member of the team for two years but has great appreciation for the team and understands the importance of the tournament.

“We take a few months to prepare for the tournament because we always strive to make sure our tournament is the best,” Allain said.

On a larger scale, the Speech and Debate team is continually striving for greatness. As of February 12, the team is ranked first in the nation.

“We’ve worked really hard over the past couple years to have a successful debate team and forensics team,” senior Emma Kenney said. “I think it just shows that each individual person really contributes to the activity and has a lot of care for it.”

Just last season there were many records broken. Thirteen students from the team continued on to Nationals and one these debaters won a national championship, which hasn’t occurred in Missouri since 2003 and is a first for the Liberty school district.

To continue and build on their previous success, Baldwin said it’s not just his coaching but also each team member’s drive.

“The kids are interested in making sure that their success is not a flash in the pan,” Baldwin said. “It is something that is prolonged and because of their consistent hard work.”

Kenney plans to utilize the skills she’s developed to help her later in life.

“In high school debate, I think that there are aspects of debate that will always continue into the rest of my life but the nature of competitiveness and success are things that I really enjoy,” Kenney said. “Everyone needs speaking abilities for everything they do in life and I really hope that I’ll be able to use my speaking abilities in whatever profession I pursue.”

The practice of this activity extends even further than the classroom and future lives, it also has the power to impact society.

“My only hope is that I am remembered fondly by those I have spoken to and that I can convince at least one person that words have power,” Hirsch said. “Those who know how to articulate ideas and communicate them effectively will be the movers and the shakers.”

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Movers and Shakers