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Park City High School debate team wins state

The Park City High School speech and debate team is celebrating its first state championship win since 2017.

The Park City High School speech and debate team took second in state last year, just points shy of the top spot. This year, the team made a commitment to win the state championship – and they did it.

Anna Williams, team coach and teacher at Park City High School, said it’s because they set the goal in September.

“The kids decided that they were going to prioritize a state championship over like individual wins or sending individual students to the Tournament of Champions or even qualifying for Nationals.”

Since then, each tournament was treated as a practice round for the state tournament. Winning the championship is a team effort and to get the award, each team member must earn points to add to their team’s score.

Policy debate student Vic Allen said the team had to adapt to ensure they scored as many points possible at the competition in southern Utah.

“It was something we weren't used to, we were a lot more of a technical-based school," Allen said. "So getting more into lay judges and appealing to parent judges and trying to adapt to a new environment was definitely difficult.”

To prepare, team members presented speeches and debated for parent volunteers. Speech team captain Savannah Tary said the group also met outside of class to fine-tune their material.

“We were constantly working on debate. And the fact that we won just made that so satisfying to know all that work was worth it,” she said.

Extemporaneous speech student Max Goldberg emphasized it was a team effort. Those who didn’t compete in the state competition helped others prepare.

“No matter what your role is on the team, everyone helped contribute to this win,” Goldberg said.

The state honor meant most to members graduating this year. Tary said while she’s ready for college, she cried after her last competition.

“It's something that I will never forget," Tary said. "This has brought me so many friends, so many memories.”

Goldberg agreed, saying debate has made him a confident speaker and more knowledgeable about world events.

Students in middle and high school are eligible to try out for the speech and debate team.