Seward debate team showcases their talents
Heidi Zemach | For the LOG
Hayden Beard, Jacob Sears, Robin McKnight, Hayden Tiner and Coach Augusta Lind at the Breeze Inn.
Seward’s first ever Debate, Drama and Forensics team is up and running, and already winning awards at the state level. Agusta Lind coached the group, which had its state tournament at the University of Alaska Anchorage Feb 18-19, capping off its inaugural season. Some members of the team showcased their skills to the local business community at a Seward Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Breeze Inn March 2. They began their season rather late this year, so they had not gone out for much support in their endeavors. But next year they are hoping to be able to garner greater local and business support.
Jacob Sears, the senior in the group, stood and gave a prepared speech, which is something he obviously enjoys. He has learned plenty of useful skills from being on the debate team, he said afterward. One was a sense of family with fellow students. Another was more about the art of public speaking such as how to make one’s performance engaging, and the importance of eloquence, a skill that he believes will serve him well throughout his life. Scouts from universities also attend the state events, looking for students with potential.
In one competition, students had to pick a subject out of a hat to research, and then had just 15-20 minutes to research it from books or magazines they found in the room. Then, they were required to speak about their subject in front of an audience and judges.
Debate team participants get great cramming skills from the experience, team members said. Having to speak convincingly about either side of a subject also useful as it sometimes makes you change your own opinion, or at least understand the other point of view, said Robin McKnight.
Hayden Beard, Hayden Tiner and McKnight presented an amusing Reader’s Theater play called “My Life in Babysitters” by D’Arcy Robb about a youngster’s infatuation with the babysitter. Although they had a script nearby, the three students rarely glanced at it, and spoke their lines as glibly as if the entire piece was ad-libbed. Their performance demonstrated how well they’d learned their lines, and unlike many student presentations, theirs was well annunciated and dramatic.
The Reader’s Theater team of Jacob Sears, Kara Knotek and Josephine Braun came in eighth place out of 28 teams at state; The team of Hayden Tiner, Hayden Beard and Robin McKnight advanced to the finals and came in third. Seward High’s team came in second overall in Drama in the small school’s division.
Drama team members Kara Knotek and Josephine Braun also were on Seward’s Alaska Tsunami National Ocean Sciences Bowl team. Hunter Doan, Griffin Plush and Richie Mack also were on the team, but were unable to make it to state.
Heidi Zemach| For The LOG
Hayden Tiner and Hayden Beard perform their skit at the March 2 Seward Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
The team was embraced, helped and encouraged by the other teams wherever they competed. And even students they were competing against gave them hugs and encouragement for a job well done. The team and Lind thanked the Nikiski coach Joe Rizzo for helping the Seward team throughout the season. There aren’t many opportunities for students like them to be challenged or recognized for academics, they said. Just this club, the ocean science bowl and Dan Marshall’s drama class. So they’re genuinely very grateful for this opportunity.
McNight admitted she broke down and sobbed after giving a presentation that she had prepared in advance of the state competition. It was a release of the pent up tension and nervousness she had experienced. But there were plenty more tears came when it was time for the teams to say goodbye to one another, and their new friends from other Alaska schools, Beard said. Hayden said he made many new Facebook friends over the course of the season.