Speech and Debate Showcase on Jan. 7

By Beacon Staff

Glacier and Flathead high schools have two of the best speech and debate programs in the state, but unless you’ve been a judge at a competition or have a child who participates, you’ve probably never seen these talented kids in action.

But organizers of an upcoming event dubbed the “Crosstown Talkdown” hope to change that. The event, scheduled for Jan. 7 at Glacier High School, is an exhibition speech and debate showdown between the two Kalispell high schools. A preliminary round begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by the showcase round at 6:30.

Greg Adkins, Glacier’s head coach, said he has been contemplating the idea of a cross-town event since Kalispell moved to a two-school format in 2007. The head-to-head format gives spectators a chance to closely observe the schools’ top forensics students.

Adkins and his fellow coaches plan for the exhibition to be the first in a series of annual Crosstown Talkdown events.

“This is a great opportunity for the Kalispell programs to compete in an exhibition-style atmosphere,” Adkins said. “I hope the Kalispell community comes out to see the best speakers and debaters at the Montana AA level.”

Flathead High School has one of the most successful speech and debate programs in Montana. It has won 21 overall state championships, including nine out of 10 from 1999-2009. The only year it failed to grab the top spot in that span was 2008.

The Braves have produced a lengthy list of individual state champions, coaches of the year and national competitors. In the past 36 years, Flathead has finished no lower than fifth in any given year, collecting a trophy case of second- and third-place hardware to go along with its state titles.

Glacier has quickly built a powerhouse program as well, led by Adkins, who was previously Flathead’s head coach. Kala Lougheed is Flathead’s current head coach.

Last year, Glacier finished second at the Class AA tournament behind state champion Bozeman. Flathead came in third. And so far this season, Glacier and Flathead have both proven they’re again in the running for the top spots.

Out of the six tournaments the schools have participated in together, each has finished higher than the other three times – always in first, second or third place overall. For purposes of definition, it could be said that Glacier and Flathead are tied in head-to-head matchups going into the Jan. 7 event. Adkins calls Flathead “an amazing program with a rich history.”

“From a competition standpoint, Flathead has to be the favorite not only to win this cross-town match, but ultimately the 2011 state tournament,” Adkins said. “They are so loaded in their senior class. We can compete with them, that is for sure, but we need to keep improving and gaining experience.”

He added: “I hope the community is proud of the healthy rivalry we have with each other. I think this rivalry has developed in a way that both of our schools should be proud. We compete hard, we want to win, but we also keep everything in perspective.”

After busy months in October, November and December, the speech and debate season has a lull after Christmas break until the final tournaments of the season. The only other tournament scheduled in January before state for both of the schools is a Butte invitational on Jan. 14-15. The state tournament will be held in Great Falls on Jan. 28-29.

“What we are really trying to do is get our squads going after Christmas break,” Adkins said.

Anyone from the public is encouraged to attend. Also, people interested in judging should contact Wendy Putzler at putzlerw@sd5.k12.mt.us or sign up online at http://judgeforensics.com/tournaments/view/8. It is preferred that judges have not competed in the programs in the last four years and are not parents or siblings of current competitors.

“I hope the Crosstown Talkdown becomes a regular part of our season in the future,” Adkins said. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity to compete and display what talent we have in both of our programs.”

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