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Speech and Debate Team at their third competition for 2017

The speech and debate team has grown and improved since last year.

LEMOORE — Are the judges ready? Is my opponent ready? Is my teammate ready?

This is the common phrasing for the beginning of a debate for competitions such as the one Lemoore High School competed in Bakersfield last weekend.

The speech and debate team members are constantly preparing for the next tournament between studying for class work and other activities. For the competition last Friday and Saturday, Maggie Franckhauser, senior, and Joshua Leavitt, senior, represented their school in the last state qualifying debate competition for the year.

maggie franckhauser

Maggie Franckhauser prepares her arguments for the debate state qualifiers. She and her partner Joshua Leavitt are competing against 32 students and need to rank at least No. 5 to qualify.

In the competition at Bakersfield, Frankhauser and Leavitt were able to move up a rank from No. 8 to No. 7 in the state, but did not make it into the top five, which is required to compete for a state title. They will be the second alternate team for state. This pair usually competes in speech competitions but this time around they opted for debate.

“Debate gets you to learn more about things going on in the world around you that you wouldn’t necessarily think about otherwise,” Franckhauser said.

This is the first year since 1998 a team from Lemoore High School has competed.

The speech team has five students who qualified for the state competition: Keziah Willis, Hunter Nash, Andrew Drozdowski, Darrian Martin and Leavitt.

Franckhauser, the president of the speech and debate club, has done speech and debate for three years. During her sophomore year, she took the time to focus on school. In that time, she took a class with Matthew Martins, a world and U.S. history teacher at Lemoore High School.

Martins said Franckhauser volunteered him to be the coach two years ago. She enjoyed having him as a teacher and thought he would be a good fit as the coach for the team.

“He would always play spoken word videos and random things to uplift us and inspire us to go through our school day,” Franckhauser said. “It had reminded me of pieces I had seen before in tournaments, so I thought he might be interested in doing it.”

Speech and Debate team trophies

Lemoore High School's speech and debate team displays 12 of their team trophies in their coach's class room.

In his first year, Martins was named “Coach of the Year” by the Redwood Region Forensics for his outstanding leadership and vision in developing young speakers and debaters.

Participation in this activity has more than doubled since last year.

Before this year, Lemoore High only had a handful of participants on the speech team. Now Martins said they have a class of 30 students at sixth period and then around an additional 35 who compete as well. The speech team has won about 10 team trophies and several individual trophies.

Isac Davenhauer, junior, managed to win two trophies in one competition for his thematic interpretation and his oratorical interpretation.

This year’s new debate team has won three team trophies.

After school in a room lit by natural light and Christmas lights, Franckhauser, Leavitt, and their alternates, Alex Walker and Francisco Merino prepare for their debate on the resolution: “On balance, the current authorization for use of military force gives too much power to the president.”

Students practicing debate

Joshua Leavitt, Maggie Franckhauser, Francisco Merino and Alex Walker practice their debate strategies while teammate Isac Dauenhauer and coach Matthew Martins take notes and critique their debate.

A resolution for the debate team is another way of saying that is their topic of debate.

Martins is usually available to students from 7 a.m. to the start of school and after school until around 6 p.m. every day. He said he has to stay flexible because the students often have other activities and responsibilities.

Leavitt said that he finds debate a good way to express himself in a productive manner and that speech and debate helped get him on a more positive track in his education.

For the students who did not qualify for state and are not seniors, there is a non-senior competition in May, allowing students like Cynthia Glaspie, sophomore, and Leandra Vernon, junior, the opportunity to compete on a more relaxed level.

Franckhauser said her best advice to new speakers is to stay loose and to have fun with it.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or

News Reporter

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