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By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer
Ketchikan High School’s Debate, Drama and Forensics team of about 24 students will tackle its first meet of the school year in Haines this weekend.
“I’m trying to set the goals at the right level for all of them,” DDF coach and Kayhi social studies teacher David Mitchel said.
He explained that in the first meet of the year, he pairs experienced debaters with the inexperienced to get teams up to speed. He said that this year, with school starting a bit earlier than usual, it’s been good to have a little more time for students to practice and spend time in mock debates before the first meet.
Mitchel said the biggest challenge this year will to be to close the wide gap in experience and knowledge between those experienced students and the new freshman.
During a break from class on Thursday, Kayhi sophomore Abby Gaugler, one of the returning team members, shared a couple of her favorite things about being on the team last year.
“I really liked being able to travel and meet new people,” she said, adding “it was a great experience last year.”
She said she is “super excited” to come back, as she’ll feel more confident and experienced this year.
Freshman Nicole West said she’s really enjoyed DDF so far, and said that her mother was a DDF team member in high school.
“I am following in her steps, somehow,” she said, adding that she’s having a great time, learning what the process of an actual debate looks like, how to look at different sides of an argument and to understand other people’s points of view.
Freshman Braxton Zink said that the mock debates they’ve worked on in class have been a good experience.
“They’ve been a good kind of training wheels for the actual bike that we are supposed to ride soon,” he said.
Zink said that so far, his biggest strength in debates is, “probably, just remaining calm,”
Kayhi sophomore Henry Clark is heading into his second year of debate.
“Last year was more of, learning how to do it,” Clark said. “This year is supposed to be the fun year, where we actually are good at it.”
West said that debate competition “helps you understand that there is another side to an argument that maybe you don’t agree with, but it can still help you to do more research on it, and understand where they’re coming from.”
DDF competitions, though they are most known for the debate portion, also include dramatic performances such as “Humorous Interpretation,” “Reader’s Theater,” and both impromptu and memorized speeches. Mitchel said that First City Players Executive Artistic Director Elizabeth Nelson works with students once per week to help prepare them for the dramatic events.
According to Mitchel, returning Kayhi debate team members include Chris Brown, Jared Valentine, Brendan Roof, Raevyn Goodson, and brothers Seth and Luke Chernick. New members include Jacob King, Bella Roberts and Jackson Kaye.
This year’s group includes nearly 100 percent of the students who competed last year, Mitchel said, which will help give the team an edge this weekend at the Haines meet.
“This group is intelligent and motivated,” he added.