Pagosa Springs High School Speech and Debate Team competes at first virtual tournament


By Kristin Morehouse

Pagosa Springs High School

Five Pirates from the Pagosa Springs High School Speech and Debate Team attended their first virtual tournament this past week. 

Those competing in the Mile High Invitational included Caroline Smith, Anneka Slead, Carter Kasson, David Morehouse and Ruth Ann Morehouse. 

Speech events

Smith submitted her 10-minute performance in Program Oral Interpretation (POI) as a YouTube link for six asynchronous rounds of competition. Judges from all over the country were able to view Caroline’s 10-minute performance, which she created and performed from a mixture of printed media including poetry, prose and a play excerpt. Her POI piece combined a bit of comedy about a mango as an analogy in a more serious message about how society views women.


The remaining four Pirates competed in a nationwide pool of approximately 80 Lincoln Douglas (LD) debaters affirming and negating whether or not the U.S. federal government should offer a federal job guarantee (FJG). 

All four pirates are commended for the preparation it took to begin to master such complex economic, political and social aspects of the pros and cons of a federal jobs guarantee. 

Two Pirates in particular had a fantastic showing at this Colorado based national level tournament: Slead and Kasson. Both Slead and Kasson fought for two wins out of four rounds. A 2:2 record at such a tough tournament is a proud accomplishment for both. 

LD debate and the federal jobs guarantee topic

Debate topics are voted on nationally by students and coaches and rotate every two months. The November-December topic for LD is: Resolved: The United States ought to provide a FJG. 

Debate teaches perspective talking and listening skills because debaters prepare arguments in support of and against each resolution and then alternate sides each round. 

The arguments used by the Pirates in favor of a FJG related to: 

1. Moral responsibility of a government to support the citizens’ right to work; 

2. Our nation’s need to repair failing infrastructure that would decrease gross domestic production (GDP) if not fixed;

3. A FJG would result in an overall net gain of 1.3 percent GDP; 

4. A FJG decreases racial disparity in employment rates; and 

5. A FJG encourages care for the environment. 

The Pirates’ main arguments against a FJG included: 

1. Cost to an already weakened economy; 

2. Feasibility of implementation without collusion and corruption; 

3. Crowd out: impact to small businesses who will not be able to compete with the government offering employees $15/hour with benefits; and 

4. Decreased military readiness because fewer people will enlist to serve in the military if government benefits are available locally. 

Pirates used credible citations and quotes to make and defend each of these points, which ends up sounding like well-written research papers being delivered, defended and used to counter their opponent’s evidence and argumentation. Each round is a fast-paced 45-minute round of speeches and cross examinations. 

Speech and debate and virtual competition 

The PSHS Speech and Debate Team appreciates the ongoing support of Archuleta School District and of Pagosa Springs as they push forward as part of the Colorado High School Activities Association and the online national speech and debate community.

Everyone welcome

We welcome any high school student to join us virtually to begin learning more about speech and debate. Please contact Kristin Morehouse at for more information. We also welcome adults who are willing to learn more about virtual judging.