The success of the Grain Valley High School speech and debate team is nothing new, but the fact that the team continues their winning streak in the face of so many changes this year is what impresses their head coach Brian Winckler.
“It’s been kind of up and down. I think every student started out excited and they wanted to make the best of their year, the seniors in their last year, the freshmen in their first year, and everything in between. And then we went virtual in school, and that hit the morale a little bit. So, our cabinet members led by Hannah Lytle, Mia Powell, and Alex Kroenke, came up with ideas like a virtual holiday party that really helped with morale,” Winckler said.
“Kids are starting to turn around, which is great. Now that they can see what they have been working toward as well, with conference and state and national qualifying events coming up, we are starting to get to the point where they are excited again and working together to accomplish the goals that we set out to accomplish.”
“It’s definitely been more difficult. My favorite part of the activities are having people react and be interactive in the event. It is definitely more difficult to set up a video of the event, rather than have people react to what you are doing in real time,” Lytle said.
“But, I also think it has helped us be more focused on our research and making sure things are clean. We’ve gotten a lot more technically strong, because video allows you to look at your performances much more intensely.”
Senior Alex Kroenke participates in the Congress event, and agrees there are some positives that have come from this unique school year.
“I think oddly enough, having to adjust how the team bonds and comes together has been really difficult but has worked out really well. Primarily, most of the bonding that happened before occurred during tournaments. But, when you are at a live tournament, you cannot see how your teammates are doing in the moment. Using video allows you to see performances you otherwise wouldn’t see, and it’s made prepping better. It’s made people less afraid to make their voices heard,” Kroenke said.
In a normal year, students prepare for their event and then perform in a room with their fellow competitors and the judge(s).
“Now, we just record our performances and submit them for judging. Which is sad, because it is interesting to watch other people’s performances and learn about what they care about,” Lytle said.
“Debate is now a lot of just sitting in a room in front of a camera, rather than all of the interaction and relationship building that happens in a normal year.”
“Something that has been cool is the amount of judges and different types of people when have been able to meet. You no longer have to drive to where you compete, so for instance, Hannah and I got to compete in a Texas tournament without having to make that drive. Overall, the amount of diversity and different opinions we have heard this year has allowed us to have more productive conversations,” Powell said.
Both Kroenke and Lytle are planning to put their skills to practice in the future with degrees in law.
“I think advocating for people and making positive change where I can, these are areas where I can do the most,” Kroenke said.
While current events have influenced both Kroenke and Lytle’s desire to pursue a career in law, Lytle has always known she wanted to pursue law as a career.
“It’s always been a big thing for me. I hate seeing innocent people go to jail and seeing the experience of those people when it’s absolutely unnecessary,” Lytle said.
Grain Valley will host the MSHSAA District 9 competition virtually the week of March 14-20, and volunteer judges are needed. Volunteers may contact Brian Winckler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2nd Semester Team Results:
Congress: Alex- 1st
OO: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
IX: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
USX: Hannah- 6th (Nietoc Bid)
Reg PFD: Alex/Williams-
Reg LD: Stolle- , Aidan- , Havard-
Reg Policy: Myers/Holman-
Champ Policy: Lytle/Powell- 1-3
DUO: Wells/Bierbaum- 1st
Prose: Kayden- 1st, Mackenzie- 4th, Wells- 5th
Storytelling- Emma- 2nd
DI: Kayden- 5th
Radio: Wells- 3rd, Aralyn- 4th, Harper- 5th
2nd in Sweeps
Congress: Alex- 1st, Myers- 5th
Storytelling: Ashlee- 2nd
Extemp: Myers- 4th
POI: Limbach- 4th
Policy: Holman/Tan- 1-3
LD: Stolle- 4-2- 3rd, Harvard- 1-3
Platte County Novice:
Storytelling- Emma- 1st
Prose: Mackenzie- 1st, Delacey- 3rd, Kayden- 6th
Radio: Aralyn- 1st, Isabella- 3rd
DI: Kayden- 3rd
OO: Emma- 4th
LD: Aralyn- 2-3- 5th
Park Hill Varsity:
USX: Hannah L- 1st (Nietoc Bid), Harvard- 3rd, Holman- 4th
OO: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
IX: Mia- 2nd; Carmen- 4th
Info: Hannah L- 3rd (Nietoc Bid)
Congress: Gracie- 2nd; Maddux- 4th; SS- Alex, Carmen, Aidan
Radio: Aidan- 3rd; Hannah L- 4th
Policy: Hannah/Mia- 6-1- 1st; Carmen/Gabby- 5-1- 3rd
PFD: Alex/Williams- 2-2
LD: Aidan- 4-1- 5th; Brayden- 3-2- 5th; Harvard- 2-2
Team Sweeps- 1st