‘A MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS’

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Aidan Hunt

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May 9, 2019

4-year Speech and Debate veteran celebrates diversity of this extracurricular activity

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‘A MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS’

PHS speech team members prepare for the district tournament. Included are (from left): Aiden Chandler, Bennett Walker, Camryn Patton, Alora Walker, Augusta Larsen and Duncan Bond.

PHS speech team members prepare for the district tournament. Included are (from left): Aiden Chandler, Bennett Walker, Camryn Patton, Alora Walker, Augusta Larsen and Duncan Bond.

Aidan Hunt

PHS speech team members prepare for the district tournament. Included are (from left): Aiden Chandler, Bennett Walker, Camryn Patton, Alora Walker, Augusta Larsen and Duncan Bond.

Aidan Hunt

Aidan Hunt

PHS speech team members prepare for the district tournament. Included are (from left): Aiden Chandler, Bennett Walker, Camryn Patton, Alora Walker, Augusta Larsen and Duncan Bond.

I never knew that there was a place where I could find transgender, gay and ultra-conservative people all in the same place. However, in the realm of speech and debate, this is a regular occurrence.

Speech has been a part of my life for the majority of high school and always has been a bit of a culture shock. It is a place where all the weirdos, outcasts, popular and normal kids meet up, discuss and argue with each other.

“We give each other feedback,” junior Duncan Bond said. “We also like to joke about really serious topics, as bad as that sounds.”

The extracurricular is much more open than any other I have experienced. The people may not always be as friendly or as extroverted as you would think, but almost everyone has original ideas.

People should get to experience this kind of behavior. Speech and Debate does not just help people meet new students but helps people to open their mind and come out of their shell.

“Everyone should do speech because honestly you don’t have to be good to love it,” Bond said. “It’s a very open community allowing you to be who you are, not hiding stuff about yourself.”

Above all this is one of the major factors that differentiate speech from other activities — this weird ability to hear an ultra-conservative idea compared with the hardcore liberal standpoint on the same matter.”

— Aidan Hunt, Speech and Debate team member

Speech is generally a place where students like to preach about their beliefs. After all, these competitors participate in an activity where the whole point is talking about what they think.

In order to do this competitors choose from different events, likely choosing one that allows them to preach out to the people. For the very passionate, students can write informative, oratories, poems and POIs about the topics they are very passionate about.

On the other end of the spectrum are students who debate about different topics to make their voice heard, or they can talk about how we could help the government, specifically Congress.

These events allow people to share ideas that help to create a marketplace of ideas for all competitors. The free-thinking atmosphere of speech helps create a system of trust and friendship that is not seen in many other activities.

“We interact with people who are in our rooms because we know what each of us are going through,” Bond said. “In basketball you are playing with people you don’t know, so you don’t have to interact with them, just beat them.”

Above all this is one of the major factors that differentiate speech from other activities — this weird ability to hear an ultra-conservative idea compared with the hardcore liberal standpoint on the same matter. The two extremes allow you to make your own point somewhere in the middle.

Of course the people take a little getting use to. In my time alone, the PHS team met a student who ate an entire orange (peel and all), a musclehead who did speech because it helped him to “get a better workout than wrestling” and girl who flirted with people by wearing a giant shark suit. These people were odd, yes, but their ideas were not discredited because of their oddity.

That’s the beauty of Speech and Debate, you get to experience a world outside what you know. It is a shame other activities don’t help you see this kind of behavior, and I don’t mean the weird kids.

It can make many people uncomfortable, but I believe students need to experience this perspective. It is the kind of open-mindedness that not many people get to experience, especially in a state like Wyoming. It is one of the best activities to show what you think, and more students deserve the opportunity to thrive in an area with little judgment.

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