The Scoop on Speech and Debate


Alexandra Rider

Over the past few years, Montrose School’s Speech and Debate Team has been gradually coming out of the shadowy unknown and stepping into the limelight. However, many Montrosians still don’t really have a good idea of what the Speech Team actually is or does. Upon asking Speech members (otherwise known as “Speechies”) how they would define the after-school activity, all were stumped. “It’s very hard to explain,” says Speechie of three years, Annie Miklus ‘18. In order to clear matters up a little bit, I did a bit of sleuthing in attempt to figure out what Speech and Debate really is and how it has grown.


To figure out the bigger picture of how the club has developed over recent years, I contacted Ms. Fisher, who was the Speech Team’s Coach for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. When she started, she described the six or seven active members as being “very dedicated” and “responsible for a lot of successful recruiting for the following year and the direction of the team.” Ms. Fisher continued, “When I left Montrose, we had thirty-five people on the roster and at least twenty active members.  A lot of students tried new categories like kiddie lit, duo interpretation, TV news team, and tons of other different events.”  Molly Cahill ‘16 says that Speech and Debate “had its moment right before we got there of being really big, but as our class went in, it sort of got smaller. Its definitely gone upward since I’ve started. I attribute a lot of the growth to Ms. Fisher – she’s so exciting and fun, and I really think she got the ball rolling.” Katie Sidhu ‘16 adds, “Speech and Debate, like most clubs, has fluctuated in size and variation over the past few years. When I first began speech as an eighth grader, the Speech team mostly concentrated on prose and kiddie lit, however, in the last few years we have been able to broaden our category focus to include more limited prep and improv events.”


According to Annie Miklus ‘18, “To be a contributing member of the Speech Team, one should let go of her inhibitions. In Speech, we do many exercises to help us improve that require a lot of confidence and putting yourself out there.  If you are self-conscious, you won’t have as much fun, and you won’t get all the benefits of the exercises. To do Speech, you don’t need to be the best actor in the world, or a super talented speaker. You just need to be able to let yourself go and lose your self-consciousness. Good things will come of it.” Molly Cahill ‘16 says, “I think that one must be responsible, open-minded, hard-working, and ready to collaborate.”


Since being on the Speech Team seems to be an impactful experience, I decided to ask some of the dedicated members about how being on the Team has influenced them. Erin Golden ‘17 says, “I’ve made a lot of good friends through Speech and I’ve come to enjoy a certain aspect of public speaking. It’s helped me a lot when I’ve had to give class presentations or advocate for myself.” Annie Miklus ‘18 states, “Speech has made me more confident. It allows me to speak in front of people without being nervous. Also, I can be more comfortable talking to people in casual settings as well.”  Katie Sidhu ‘16 adds, “Before I joined the Speech team, I was terrified of any kind of public speaking, from raising my hand in class to making an announcement during lunch. However, since joining speech, and doing improv events specifically, I feel comfortable speaking to anyone about any topic without any kind of fear of saying something wrong. Also, Speech has taught me the importance of taking risks…Speech has helped me form opinions and values that have become central to my life. My experiences with my fellow team members and my Speechie friends are ones that I will always remember as they shaped who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow.” Molly Cahill believes that being in Speech has influenced and improved other areas of her life: “Speech has also helped me to be a better speaker overall, and helped me academically.   Now I’m better at organizing my thoughts and sharing them in front of others.”


I met up with Mrs. McGowan to discuss how Speech and Debate grew into the blossoming flower it is now, and how the new coach for the 2015-16 school year plans on reorganizing the team. Mrs. McGowan was a very successful member of the Speech and Debate club when she was a Montrosian, helping Montrose to win several trophies that are currently displayed in the trophy case in Founder’s Hall.  Speech and Debate Team had been around for a while by the time Mrs. McGowan came to Montrose in seventh grade.  It has been consistently running since she can remember, and was a part of a regular school day period entitled “Carousel.” Since the members met routinely and were consistently improving on their work, the Speech Team became very competitive.  The most popular categories back in the day included Kiddie Literature, Multiple, Prose, and Duo, which is similar to what is still popular today. Mrs. McGowan intends to “create a regular schedule for members to attend practices, so even if you’re not competing one season, you still come to practices in order to create a team atmosphere. You also still give feedback to students who are currently competing and strengthening their piece, if they qualify for states.” In her opinion, the most important feature of Speech and Debate is “giving students a chance to develop not only public speaking skills, but also confidence, because you’re doing something that you can be proud of, and your voice can be heard and listened to.”


Speech and Debate is open to those in grades 8 through 12. The first Speech and Debate Tournament is for Novices, or new Speech members, and is held at Revere High School on October 10th.  The second Tournament is regular and for all Speech members; it is held at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School on October 24. Speech and Debate Tournaments typically run from 8:00 a.m. to around 6:00 p.m., but they can and usually run longer than that. Tournaments are open to Speech members only. Since Mrs. McGowan wants to make Speech and Debate more rigorous, like a varsity sports team, rather than a casual club, she wants people to be part of the team from the beginning. If you are looking for a way to improve your public speaking skills, boost your self-confidence, make lots of friends and have tons of fun, I highly encourage you to look into Speech and Debate! It is an impactful experience that you will not regret.