Speaking up for success: Debate prepares for competition, life

May 2019 Posted in Other

Silverton High School Speech and Debate coaches, Stephen McClanahan and Katie Kantrowitz. Nancy Jennings

By Nancy Jennings

Stephen McClanahan is all about communication. The 24-year-old Salem resident, a 2013 graduate from Silverton High School, is now a co-coach with his former Speech and Debate teacher, Katie Kantrowitz. Now in her sixth year of teaching Speech and Debate, Kantrowitz, 30, recalled observing McClanahan’s steady and enthusiastic progress.

“I became his teacher in his senior year. He was captain of the speech team,” she said. “He was so awesome.”

“At the end of his senior year, he knew that I was looking for an assistant coach. He sat me down and asked me if he could be my assistant coach. I told him ‘not until everybody that was on the team with him graduated’ because I didn’t want to put him in the position where he’d have to be a ‘boss’ to his friends,” she said, smiling. “I knew that if he was still interested in a couple of years, I really wanted him to coach.” His interest never wavered. “He regularly volunteered as a judge, then was an assistant coach for two years. He was head coach last year – and this year we are co-coaches.”

“Communication is far and away the most important skill that you can have. It translates into any job field and even outside of a career. You get farther in life when you have solid communication skills,” McClanahan said, adding he is proficient in sign language and dabbles in group music and song writing.

McClanahan also works at Silverton’s Home Place Restaurant. In addition, he enjoys running gaming events in Salem. “It’s a great way to build community by seeing everybody playing games together,” he said, adding that his central focus lies with speech and debate.

McClanahan recalled witnessing the growth of a reserved, hardworking and dedicated student. Starting as a freshman, she noticeably began to blossom in her junior year as she “climbed the Oregon circuit ladder.” By her senior year, “she was standing on the final stage at State.”

“This really changes the way people move through the world,” he said. Some parents are shocked how their reserved children can metamorphosize into outspoken, confident public speakers. “Invariably, I tell them ‘just give us three months and you won’t be able to get them to shut up,’” he laughed.

Both McClanahan and Kantrowitz are proud and excited to see two of their students recently earn their invitation to the annual National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament held in Dallas, Texas from June 16-21.

“We have a junior (Brady Tavernier) and a sophomore (Chloe Platt). They are doing an event called ‘duo interpretation.’ They are interpreting other people’s work – a published work – and will cut it down to a 10-minute memorized and acted out story.”

In order to get invited to compete at nationals, the students had to take first or second place (in March) at the North Oregon National Speech and Debate Association District Tournament at Linfield College in McMinnville. The students took first place in a partner event and are now tournament champions.

Tavernier and Platt chose “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams for the competition in June. “It will be memorized and performed in an acting style, but without any props. Everything they do must be pantomimed,” Kantrowitz said.

To assist in the fundraising effort for Brady Tavernier and Chloe Platt’s Dallas, Texas trip to the Speech & Debate National Championship Tournament, go to: https://silverton-high-or.ed.co/speech-and-debate

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.