Student hosts debate tournament for senior project


Stu Mair

Senior Nate Wutzke hosted a TFA debate tournament at the school on Sept. 19. Pictured above is the judge's table outside of the library, where ballots and judges were coordinated.

Brooks Lescher, Staff Reporter

From government debates to friends arguing over who called shotgun first, debates happen all around the school every day. But for one student in particular, debate and speech are more than just a casual daily occurrence. Senior Nate Wutzke hosted a debate tournament at the high school on Saturday, Sept. 19, as his senior project. Wutzke had 400 students attending the event and more than 150 adults.

“Debate has done so much for me and I have learned so much,” Wutzke said. “Tami Parker has done so much for me so I want to give back.”

Wutzke started debate and speech his freshman year, this being his fourth year on the team. The speech and debate world is interconnected, helping Wutzke, who is more heavily involved in publicly speaking, connect with other schools to get the word out for the tournament.

“I started setting this up in July and it has been really time consuming since school started, between two and four hours a day,” Wutzke said.

Outside of debate, Wutzke is on the golf team, involved in theatre, clubs, and honor societies. However Wutzke plans to focus on his interest in debate and speech at the collegiate level.

“This experience has taught me to raise my voice, and have an opinion,” Wutzke said. “And after competing on the national level, I have made so many friends. Debate is not ‘geeky’ whatsoever. The kids I meet are down to earth and extremely social.”

Wutzke has spent a lot of hours on this project, since starting in July.

“Nate is one of those kids that can give 100 percent in each of the things he’s involved in,” senior Abby Martin said. “Instead of dividing 100 percent eight ways, he can give 800 percent.”

Wutzke said he was inspired to choose this project when he realized how much he’d learn in the process.

“I’ve learned how to be a leader, delegater, and what it takes to host a tournament,” Wutzke said. “This is the hardest thing I have ever done.”

With the support of Wutzke’s peers and the guidance of debate and speech teacher Tami Parker, he was been able to bring this tournament together in time.

“He planned and organized the event from start to finish,” teacher Tami Parker said. “He has been involved in every step: student jobs, school intuitions, school registration, and more.”

Parker was heavily involved in helping Wutzke succeed with this project.

“I have loved it,” Parker said. “It is a honor to have a student want to learn more about the area you teach. The fact that Nate wanted to learn how to host a tournament and give back to the speech/debate community is amazing. He has gone above and beyond in planning an awesome tournament.”