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Glenwood Springs High School speech team makes a comeback

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Glenwood Springs High School’s speech and debate team has returned to action this fall, following a one-year hiatus due to a drop in student participation last year.

“It had been kind of dwindling, and last year it just kind of whimpered out,” said long-time assistant speech team coach Chip Winn Wells. “But we’re back now.”

GSHS will also again host a statewide invitational meet, as it had for many years before, on Saturday, Dec. 5. The program is looking for around 50 adult volunteer judges to help with the meet.



“We can’t pay them, but we will feed them really well,” Wells said. “We need judges for the morning or afternoon sessions, or both, whatever people feel like they can do.”

There will be a training session for volunteers, especially those who have not helped out at a speech meet before, on Dec. 2. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Wells at 379-5940.



Wells has also been busy training the high school’s new speech and drama teacher, Kate McRaith, to be the team’s head coach this year.

“I was just asked to help get it going again,” Wells said. “I believe in the program, and it serves the needs of so many different kids.”

Response from students this year has been “tremendous,” she said, with about 25 to 30 students involved.

“We always run into the difficulty starting out with kids who are involved in other activities,” Wells said. “But we’ve had a lot of kids working on their pieces who hope to be competing as soon as they can.”

The team has participated in three meets so far this fall, at Battle Mountain and Faith Christian high schools, as well as a “mini-meet” hosted by neighboring Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. Roaring Fork also has had an active speech team for several years under the direction of Ralph Young.

“We’re also working in cooperation with the mock trial team to give them some performance experience before their season next spring,” Wells said. “It’s good to have some experience competing in front of a judge.”

Speech team captains this year are junior Britny McElfresh and sophomore Chandler Melby. The lone returning team member from two years ago is junior Spencer Mueller, she said.

“A number of schools around the state were disappointed that we weren’t hosting a meet last year, so we hope to have them back this year,” Wells said.

The meet has drawn upwards of 35 schools in past. She hopes to have at least 20 schools enter the Dec. 5 event.

Wells has been coaching speech and debate dating back to the mid-1970s in Illinois.

“I was involved immediately when we moved here, and have coached at all three high schools [Glenwood, Roaring Fork and Basalt],” said Wells, who retired from full-time teaching in 2000 but still remains involved in the schools.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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