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Mitchell Speech and Debate take on nationals in Salt Lake City

Raina Grimsley and Ryan Solberg can now add debating the pros and cons of a one-day presidential primary to their list of high school accomplishments.

Four students qualify for the 2016 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. From left to right pictured is Ryan Solberg, Raina Grimsley, Eric Beck and Destiny Pinder-Buckley. Photo courtesy of Raina Grimsley.
Four students qualify for the 2016 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. From left to right pictured is Ryan Solberg, Raina Grimsley, Eric Beck and Destiny Pinder-Buckley. Photo courtesy of Raina Grimsley.

Raina Grimsley and Ryan Solberg can now add debating the pros and cons of a one-day presidential primary to their list of high school accomplishments.

Grimsley and Solberg, Mitchell High School students, debated this topic as a team last week at the 2016 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. They qualified for the national tournament after winning in a Brookings tournament earlier this year.

"It was cool to see the different styles of debate that people to learn," Grimsley said. "It's cool to meet people from all around the United States and see how they debate."

Grimsley and Solberg are two of four students from Mitchell who qualified for the national tournament. Destiny Pinder-Buckley and Eric Beck also qualified. Pinder-Buckley qualified for international extemporaneous speaking and Beck for student congress.

Grimsley and Solberg qualified for the public forum debate, one of the most popular categories, according to their coach, Ron Grimsley.

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In the public forum debate, it's a two-person team versus another two-person team. All debate teams had one topic to prepare for, both for and against it.

Ron Grimsley said the teams debate in six rounds, each 50 minutes. This year's topic was if a one-day national primary would be more beneficial for the United States than the current primary process.

Beck, who qualified for the congressional debate, was originally an alternate, but a student from Watertown could no longer go. This gave Beck a round-trip ticket to Salt Lake City.

The congressional debate is referred to as student congress, Ron Grimsley said. Students create a series of bills and resolutions for debate in a congressional debate, delivering speeches for and against topics.

Pinder-Buckley, who qualified for international extemporaneous speaking, could not attend nationals. For her competition, students are presented with a choice of three questions. In 30 minutes, competitors prepare a seven-minute speech answered one of the questions.

The national tournament, which was from June 12-17, had students competing the first three days of the competition. On Thursday began the second round of competition and Friday was finals.

Even though none of the Mitchell students made it to the final rounds, they still had fun exploring the city and participating in the debate, Ron Grimsley said.

"I would think a highlight was enjoying a different area of the country ...." he said. "This year, the group that I had, was one of the more successful."

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Ron Grimsley said many of his speech and debate students will be seniors in the upcoming year and he knows they will be going on to "bigger and better things."

Ron Grimsley, along with Melanie Jacobson, coach the speech and debate team at the Mitchell High School.

"It was just a kind of a cap to a solid year," Grimsley said.

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