For just the third time in the more than century-long history of the Kansas State High School Activities Association state debate tournament, Garden City High School will serve as the host site when the 109th state tournament for Classes 5A and 6A will come to western Kansas.
The two-day competition will be held Jan. 11 and 12, with the opening day coming on a Friday when GCHS classes are off in order for the school to be able to use its considerable facilities, being one of only two or three high schools with the ability to host the event in one building.
More than 300 debate students will be competing over the course of two days, with champions to be crowned in both 2- and 4-speaker divisions in both classifications.
Russ Tidwell, GCHS Debate coach, said the school last hosted the event in 2009 when it was held at the old GCHS high school and also the two middle school buildings. With the new high school facilities, the entire competition can be held at GCHS’ campus which opened in 2012. The state event was also held here in 1999, said Tidwell, who came to Garden City in 1995.
From 1911 to 1994, only the 4-speaker debate format was used where teams use two individuals for the affirmative or pro position and two for the negative side of the debate.
In regional competition before the semester break, two teams from each of four qualifying sites earned berths to the state meet – in 6A those schools in 4-speaker divisions include Lawrence-Free State, Olathe East, Olathe North, Blue Valley-West, Blue Valley-North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Topeka-Washburn Rural and Wichita East. Washburn Rural is the defending state champion.
In Class 5A, the 4-speaker qualifying schools include Andover Central, Goddard-Eisenhower, Lansing, Newton, Blue Valley-Southwest, Salina-South, Topeka-Shawnee Heights and Topeka-West. Blue Valley-Southwest is the defending champion.
“We haven’t hosted it very often since we’re so far out here in the western part of the state,” Tidwell said. “But what I’ve heard in the past after we hosted is that everyone thought Garden City had done a great job, the people were hospitable, friendly and welcoming. I think it’s reflective of just how much the people of Garden City enjoy having people come here and then to make sure they have a great experience.”
While GCHS didn’t earn one of the eight 4-speaker qualifying spots, the Buffaloes team will be represented by four teams in the 2-speaker division – teams comprised of Caitlyn Harman/Trevor Southern, Alyssa Day/Andrea Moya, Gracie Mueller/Reagan Wright and Andrew Unruh/Jessica Angulo.
Teams will register at 10 a.m. Friday in the Commons Stage area before going to the Theater for a general assembly meeting at 10:45 a.m.
Competition will begin at 11:30 a.m. for Class 6A in the Public Service and Freshman Academies while Class 5A will be competing in the Trade and Health and Arts and Communications Academies. That will be round one with rounds 2, 3 and 4 scheduled for 1:45 p.m., 4 o’clock and 6:15 p.m. All these rounds are closed to the public.
Saturday’s competition continues with an 8 a.m. start for Class 6A in round 5, followed by round 6 at 10:15 a.m. Class 5A will start round 5 at 10:15 a.m., followed by round 6 at 12:30 p.m. The rest of the bracketed tournament will be open to the public with Class 6A conducting Double Octafinals (32) at 12:30 p.m., Octafinals (16) at 2:45 p.m., Quarterfinals (8) at 5 p.m., Semifinals (4) at 7:15 p.m. and Finals at 9:15 p.m. Class 5A Octafinals will begin at 2:45 p.m., followed by Quarterfinals (5 p.m.), Semifinals (7:15 p.m.) and Finals (9:15 p.m.).
Once the 2-speaker divisions are through their qualifying rounds, the teams are scored and the bracketed 1 through 32, much like an athletic bracket. So No. 1 faces No. 32, etc.
Tidwell said that preliminary registration indicated about 80 2-speaker teams will compete in 6A and approximately 54 in 5A.
“We have a great community and great support for this kind of event, so it’s exciting to be hosting it again,” Tidwell said.