The speech and debate team at Houston High School is enjoying one of its most successful years in recent memory. Four students qualified for state competition and two of those are headed to nationals.
The issue is paying to get them there.
Gina Chambers, the team’s first-year coach, said the department operates on a limited budget. Because the team hadn’t been as successful in recent years, money for state and national events was not set aside.
Chambers said it will cost about $500 to take four students – Hannah Pounds, Laken Smith, Brett Reith and Ann Frydrych – to the April 24-25 state meet at the University of Missouri. A summer trip to nationals in Birmingham, Ala., for Pounds and Smith will be more than three times as much.
The bill for a hotel room and rental car is $1,400, Chambers said. That total does not include entry fees, meals, gas and other necessities.
The team is hosting several fund-raisers and seeking donations to cover costs.
“We are incredibly broke right now,” Chambers said. “We need help from the community.”
Pounds will represent Houston at nationals after finishing second in dramatic interpretation at the district competition in Camdenton. The event involves memorizing a piece from a novel, play or short story and performing during a 10-minute time limit. Lines must be memorized, and no props are allowed.
Pounds, who is not enrolled in Chambers’ classes, practices at home or before school.
“Hannah is very responsible, dedicated and works extremely hard,” Chambers said. “She sets a goal for herself and meets that goal.”
Smith punched her ticket to nationals by winning the Lincoln-Douglas debate at the Ozark District NFL League competition.
The debate topic changes at each event. Smith won her 45-minute debate with another student on vigilante justice.
“She’s every single day in the library on the computer, doing research and writing cases,” Chamber said. “She’s already planning for nationals, and the topic hasn’t come out yet.”
Before nationals, Pounds and Smith will compete alongside Reith and Frydrych at the state competition. Reith placed third in radio speaking at the district competition, and Frydrych was second in extemporaneous speaking.