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HRVHS speech and debate team wins 5A state championship

speechThe speech and debate team of Hood River Valley High School (HRVHS) won the only 2021 Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) 5A state team championship this year. The OSAA speech and debate state championships were altered by COVID-19 protocols this year. Rather than a live, in-person performance, performances were made in front of cameras from home. 

Students practiced and competed online throughout this season. Senior and team co-captain, Jacob Kaplan, said the virtual setting allowed the team to participate in more competitions this year than previous years because they did not have to pay for transportation and lodging. 

Speech and debate includes several activities in which students may choose to participate. HRVHS students choose activities that fit their interests. For speech activities, students recite a published piece or write their own piece. For debate activities, students argue current issues against opposing teams. State and national resources exist to support students as they prepare for competitions. 

Kaplan said he enjoys trying new things so each year he has competed in at least one new event. He aims to find the best platform to showcase his message. This year, he chose to do an informative speech to discuss the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy. 

To experience success in the competitions, Kaplan said he performs a lot of research and writes. He also finds it helpful to consult other competitors and family members for advice on his speech. It is a cycle of practicing, performing, receiving feedback, and editing, shared Kaplan.

First-year speech and debate coach Ann McDonald said one of the primary reasons she applied to assume the coaching role was to work with some of the remarkable students she taught in middle school. Coach McDonald shared that experienced team members  really support newer members.

“It is an incredibly supportive group of students - a true team!” said Coach McDonald.

Despite technical issues during the tournament, including a power outage, HRVHS students maintained a positive attitude and persevered to winning the team state championship. Coach McDonald said the team displayed strength, humor persistence, and fortitude. 

The final places were announced Saturday, April 24, 2021, on YouTube. The speech and debate national championships will be held virtually June 13-19, 2021. 

The HRVHS speech and debate team are recruiting members for next school year. Through participation, students have an opportunity to improve their communication skills, critical thinking, research skills, and confidence. Students are a part of a team where they develop lifelong friendships and meet other students from around the state. 

Kaplan said speech and debate provides a great combination of critical thinking, collaboration, and activism, which was exactly what he was looking for when he joined the team. 

Students interested in joining the team may contact head coach Ann McDonald at

State Competitors::


  • Mason Spears (sophomore)
  • Dylan Henehan (freshman)

Duo Interp

  • Jacob Sosa & Melanie Glatter (sophomores)


  • Sadie Smith (sophomore)
  • Kaelen Kenna (junior)

Humor Interp

  • Angus Kellems (sophomore)


  • Dylan Matthisen (sophomore)
  • Xavier Petersen (sophomore)


  • Jacob Kaplan (senior)

Lincoln Douglas Debate

    • Sadie Smith (sophomore)
    • Arden Reid (sophomore)


  • Alternate: Mason Spears 



    • Sadie Smith (sophomore)


  • Alternate: Alondra Mendoza (freshman)


Parliamentary Debate

  • Xavier Peterson & Gavin Hackett (sophomores)
  • Angus Kellems & Sam Fauth (sophomores)


    • Zan Lapp (sophomore)


  • Alternate: Lelu Branch (sophomore)


Public Forum

  • Lelu Branch & Fergu Waag (sophomore/freshman)
  • Lucas Elliott & Kaelen Kenna (sophomore/junior)


  • Jacob Kaplan (senior)
  • Kaelen Kenna (junior)
  • Melanie Glatter (sophomore)

 National Qualifiers:


Lelu Branch

Lucas Elliott

Sam Fauth

Melanie Glatter

Jacob Kaplan

Kaelen Kenna

Arden Reid

Sadie Smith

Jacob Sosa