LHS Speech and Debate Takes the Podium


Spliced from two screenshots of the LHS speech and debate team in a video call. Each nametag corresponds to the person in the portrait above it.

Eric Folmer, Editor

         While Speech and Debate might be more compatible with the current COVID restrictions than most school activities, it is not without its challenges.  The LHS Speech and Debate Team started this year’s season in October and it will last until April. Their most recent tournament was held by Lewis and Clark College, though LHS Senior and Speech and Debate Team member Mete Bakircioglu noted that it wasn’t like other university tournaments he’d competed at in the past.

         “Our most recent competition was virtual, over Zoom,” said Bakircioglu. “So I kind of didn’t get the same feelings that I got from being there in person.  A tournament that takes place at a high school feels the same as a tournament that takes place at a college when it’s over Zoom.” The Lewis and Clark College tournament, unlike most events that the team participated in, was open for participants outside of Oregon, though mostly teams from nearby states attended. More recently,  at the McMinnville Invitational Tournament on Jan. 30, Bakircioglu won first place in the Radio event, and other LHS Speech and Debate team members found success as well, Emily Zou having won first place in Impromptu and Anna Pelletier and Hannah Negri having closed out in Lincoln Douglas Debate.

Mete noticed some specific differences between his prior three years of Speech and Debate and his experience this year.

“A lot of the time when you’re in person, especially when you have people watching you in person or spectators in attendance, it can get your blood pumping,” said Bakircioglu. But I haven’t really felt that with the Zoom tournaments because it just feels a lot more casual when you’re not in the same room as your competitors and your partner and the judge. To me, that’s kind of an upside. I know for some people that would be a downside.” But, Bakircioglu continued, “The downside is not being able to be with my team in person, and not being able to chat with everybody on my team about how their rounds have been going.”  Bakircioglu went on to say that there is a system in place to address that, a “squad room” in which members of the Lakeridge team would wait from round to round and where they can prepare for the rest of the event or relax.

         “Sometimes we play games in the squad room,” said Bakircioglu. “I know we’ve been playing a lot of ‘Among Us,’ especially earlier in the year. So, it’s nice to have those types of interactions and it’s cool because it’s kind of like a breakout room just for your team specifically, and you can talk to people there, but it’s definitely not comparable to how it was before.” Although Mete will be graduating this year, he encouraged anyone else at LHS to join the Speech and Debate Team.  “It’s a great team and it’s my favorite community at Lakeridge,” he said. “We’re very tight-knit, everybody is super supportive of each other, and everybody helps each other to write speeches and prepare their debate cases. And it’s a great group of super accepting and inclusive people. So, anybody who’s interested in speaking or even just having a good time should join the team.”