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Former congressman helps judge local speech, debate tournament

POLSON — Approximately 350 forensics contestants from 16 schools from across Western Montana gathered for the Polson High School Invitational Speech Debate and Drama meet on Dec. 14.  Due to the tremendous number of entries, three schools were used for the meet — Polson High School, Polson Middle School and Linderman Elementary School — according to Jon Petersen, PHS head speech coach.

At the end of the day’s competition, students gathered in the halls outside the PHS auditorium waiting for the awards ceremony. PHS team members said they thought the meet went well, although some wished they’d placed higher in their rounds. 

The speech season is a long season, beginning in November and finishing up with the state tournament in February. PHS has four speech meets remaining — Jan. 11, Loyola Sacred Heart High School, Jan. 18 Bigfork High School, Jan. 25 Whitefish and a two day meet in Hamilton on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

The speech bus leaves early in the morning, 4:45 a.m. for the trip to Libby on Dec. 7, the students said. Then bus trouble delayed them. For their home meet, the kids slept later, until 6:30 in the morning, with rounds beginning at 8 or 8:30 a.m.

A speech meet requires lots of volunteer judges, and one of those judges was former Montana State Representative Denny Rehberg. Rehberg’s daughter Katie is one of PHS’s assistant speech coaches, and he flew in from Washington, D.C., to help out.

A former debater himself when he attended Billings West High School, Rehberg judged Lincoln Douglas debate. 

“I was totally impressed (with the students),” Rehberg said, adding that he wouldn’t want to run for office against any of them.

“It’s fun to see the novices,” Rehberg said.

The novice LD competitors sometimes talk too fast because they’re nervous, he said, and get ahead of their argument.

Although Dominic Rosatti isn’t a debater, the PHS junior is a fast talker. He competed in impromptu speaking and made the finals. 

“The story goes that when my mom was pregnant with me, she kissed the Blarney Stone,” Rosatti said.

If the mother kisses the Blarney Stone, the child in utero is blessed with a silver tongue, according to the legend. Rosatti is positive proof of the legend.   

In impromptu speaking, students are given a topic or a cartoon and then have three minutes and one second to write a five-minute speech, before giving their talk to the judge.

Rosatti said he comes up with at least three examples for his speech, but he doesn’t follow a formula for his presentation. 

“I hate formulas because they restrict you,” he explained. 

PHS finishers included: 

1st Place, Impromptu Speaking: Sharidan Russell

3rd Place, Extemporaneous Speaking: Sharidan Russell

5th Place, Serious Oral Interpretation: Lindy Rutledge

7th Place, Expository Speaking, Haley Kendley

7th Place, Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Jacob Raymond

7th Place, Impromptu Speaking: Dominic Rosatti

8th Place, Policy Debate: Annabelle Smith and Katie Stobie

8th Place, Memorized Public Address: Kylie Koberg

8th Place, Serious Oral Interpretation: Brian Jore


Team Sweeps results:

Class AA Speech: 1st—Glacier, 2nd—Flathead

Class A Speech: 1st—Columbia Falls, 2nd—Stevensville, 3rd—(tie) Hamilton and Polson

Class B Speech: 1st—Loyola, 2nd—Bigfork, 3rd—Ronan

Class A Drama: 1st—Corvallis, 2nd—Stevensville, 3rd—Libby

Class B Drama: 1st—Eureka, 2nd—Bigfork, 3rd—Cut Bank


Lo 32°

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