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Speech and Debate Club is Gaining Momentum at MSHS

Last year, two Mount Si High School Speech and Debate teams placed 1st and 2nd in the state Public Forum Debate competition, making history in Washington State. The same two teams qualified to compete at Nationals in Dallas, Texas last summer; they were the only teams in the Puget Sound area to qualify.  


As a result, momentum has continued to grow and Mount Si High School’s Speech and Debate team is off to a strong start this year.  The team hosted two “Introduction to Debate” events this fall with over 50 students attending each.  After which, 71 students signed up for the club — up from 24 last year! 


In October, the team hosted its first-ever Showcase Evening, welcoming a large audience to watch a demonstration of how debate competitions work.  For each debate topic, participants must study the issues in advance and be prepared to argue both sides of an issue.  When they arrive to a Public Forum Debate competition, they draw which side they will represent, then take turns with their debate partner stating their case to persuade the judges with their reasoning.

Debate Showcase

At their Showcase Evening on October 20, 2015, Mount Si students debated the topic:

Should governments prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over their own national interest?

Also for the first time, the Speech and Debate team hosted a mini-camp last August for students in grades 6th-9th with a variety of interactive activities lead by high school students. The purpose of the camp was to raise awareness among younger student and get them excited for opportunities they’ll have in high school.

 Debate camp 1  Debate camp 2  Debate camp 3 Debate camp 4  

From October through March, a delegation representing the Mount Si team competes almost every weekend. So far this fall, they have upheld Mount Si’s strong reputation during regional matches:
  • On October 23-24, at the Bear Creek Grizzlies Invitational in Redmond, Ruary Thompson (senior) and Lauren Zinkan (junior) placed 3rd in the Open Public Forum category, and Thompson was awarded the first speaker award.
  • On October 30-31, at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, competing against Puyallup High School, Thompson and Dana Korssjoen (senior) placed 1st and earned a state bid in the Open Public Forum category. Thompson also earned the first speaker award and Korssjoen was named third speaker, while Zinkan and Kenzington Dupree (junior) were quarterfinalists.  In the Novice Public Forum category, freshmen Reagan Thompson and Liam Renner were also quarterfinalists, as well as freshmen Jack Harris and Stephan Rubalcava.  Renner also earned the third speaker award while Regan Thompson was awarded fifth speaker.
  • On November 6-7, at Gig Harbor High School, Zinkan and Dupree were semifinalists in the open public forum, and Reagan Thompson and Renner were semifinalists in the Novice Public Forum. Renner earned first speaker and Dupree earned fifth speaker.
  • On November 13-14, at Central Valley High School, Ruary Thompson and Korssjoen placed 1st, earning another state bid as well a Tournament of Champions bid for the April national competition in Kentucky. (The team needs only one more bid to qualify and compete.) Zinkan and Dupree also earned spots in quarterfinals.
  • On November 20-21, at Tahoma High School, three novice teams (comprised of all freshmen) received awards. Andrew Helfrich and Aryan Banerjee were quarterfinalists, while teams Liam Renner and Reagan Thompson, and Maiya Weinmaster and Reilly Parr closed out the tournament — both earning 1st place awards. In addition, Thompson earned a 3rd place speaker award and Renner placed 1st for overall novice speakers.

In December, the team will be hosting the first-ever Debate Round Robin event at school, to allow every debater that has joined the club the opportunity to practice their skills.

Mount Si students currently compete in the Public Forum debate category.  As interest and support for the club grows, the team would like to expand its training into other speech and debate categories, in the future.  In total, there are five categories of debate possible and eight categories of speech at most tournaments.  The team also hopes to expand its capacity to host a tournament at Mount Si High School in the future.


“There is much potential for growth and so many avenues that students can get involved in. We are only just scratching the surface, and with the help of our community, I feel we can fill a gap that has been missing here in the Valley,” explained Angela Thompson, parent and president of the Mount Si Speech and Debate Booster Club. 


For students, who want to learn more or join the team, please contact Ms. King, Mount Si High School Speech and Debate coach and language arts teacher at, or drop by room 301 when the team meets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 2:30 p.m.


For parents or community members, who would like to help support Mount Si’s Speech and Debate program, please contact Angela Thomas at Volunteers are welcome since debate competitions depend on adult participation. So far, they’ve hosted four clinics and trained 35 parents how to judge.
Read interviews with team member in recent news coverage:

Debaters before heading into competition


Debate teams prior to a competition.