Bettendorf speech and debate team sends five students to nationals


Holding the hardware: National qualifers (from left) Max Rantilla, Talia Cary, Noah Rantilla, Grant Carker, Tyler Koch and Zach Adams proudly display their plaques. Each member will compete at the speech and debate national tournament this June.

By Laurel Wade


Five students from Bettendorf High School have qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament beginning in June. While being able to compete in Nationals is exciting and a great honor, it is also nerve-wracking.

“Qualifying is always a great feeling. Being able to represent Bettendorf at the national level is crazy. I'm just thinking about how many schools there are that do speech and debate and how me, from Bettendorf Iowa, a town a lot of people probably haven't heard of, is able to compete at a national level. I'm just really proud of myself and of everyone who qualified and even the people who didn't,” said junior Talia Cary.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, most of the team’s meetings have been held online this year, making participation difficult.

“Because our meetings are online you can’t easily walk around or have arm movements,” said sophomore Zachary Adams. An additional consequence to COVID-19 is the national tournament going all-online, as well as the state and district tournaments.

“The biggest change this year has undoubtedly been the tournaments going online; as a consequence, we haven't been able to do any traveling or overnight stays. While the actual speaking and debating is undoubtedly important, probably the most fun part of being on the team was being together with your club mates; having dinner, walking around other cities, and spending entire days together. While we as a team have been trying to still "meet up" as best we can, I just feel quite saddened Covid took away so much of the fun from my last year,” said senior Noah Rantilla.

There are a great deal of events to specialize in; Max Rantilla qualified in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.

“The gist of the event is I get to choose between three questions about America that I’ve never seen before, and then have 30 minutes to research and prepare a speech, which is supposed to be 5-7 minutes,” said sophomore Rantilla.

While difficult and oftentimes scary, speech and debate allows for personal growth and feelings of accomplishment for the students who partake.

“Speech and debate helps me to get comfortable with public speaking. It also teaches me how to speak well and what things contribute to an entertaining and clear speech,” said junior Grant Carkner.

Along with the many other benefits to public speaking on the team, speech and debate can help with mental health.

“The number one benefit I see in doing speech in debate is being able to give speeches and kind of argue in a respectful way. I've got some pretty bad anxiety and having to give these speeches triggers that but, it also helps in the fact that I'm getting better at public speaking,” said Cary.














Laurel Wade is a senior and

editor for the Growl and yearbook.

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