Debate team hosts Red Rock Classic with ‘Star Wars’ theme

debate team
Standing from the left is assistant coach Matthew Jonassaint, coach Carrie Strecker, and students Nathaniel Mason, Issac Ellison, Nathaniel Torres, Leilani Kennedy, Naia Kennedy and Elana Ross. Front row from the left are students Emma Millis, Jaidyn Thomas, Ty Martinez and Miranda Corbin.
Photo by Anthony Militano

The Grand County Speech and Debate Team hosted the Red Rock Classic Debate Tournament on Friday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Dec. 21, at Grand County High School. Six schools from Colorado and Utah attended the “Star Wars” themed tournament and the top three finishers in each category medaled and the overall winners earned “Star Wars” character trophies adorned with lights and Santa hats.

“Yep, we’re nerds,” quipped coach Carrie Strecker when asked about the theme of the tournament.

Current, topical issues are typically analyzed at debate tournaments and the “Star Wars” theme allowed the students to discuss political and social issues in unique ways.

Strecker invented “Character Congress” for the Red Rock Classic. “We have a normal debate event called Congress in which students act as if they are in a session of Congress, passing or not passing legislation. In this event, we have given them a couple of characters to choose from and they are acting like those characters in a Congressional session … it’s a fun, little add-on event.”

Willy Wonka, Buzz Lightyear, Batman and other beloved film and television characters debated banning scientific testing of animals and campaign contribution disclosure in the Character Congress. The point of the exercise was to act and debate the same way the fictional character would. Some students struggled to express themselves and defend their position, but others enjoyed the exercise and produced solid, rational arguments.

Ty Martinez had the role of Senator/Emperor Palpatine. Martinez was a good and effective Palpatine, but the funny voice inflections and facial contortions were only a part of his repertoire. His questions to fellow character delegates were just as important as his physical character. Martinez won second place in Character Congress. Jaidyn Thomas and Martinez together took third place in Parliamentary Debate.

In the awards ceremony following the tournament, Strecker said she was so happy with the feedback, that Character Congress would likely be included in next year’s Red Rock Classic.