Students shed public speaking fears, build skills in MHS Speak Week

Fifth to ninth graders will be smooth-talking by the end of this week, thanks to coaching from Mason High School’s Speech and Debate team.

From July 27-31, the team is continuing their annual tradition of Speak Week, allowing students to practice public speaking skills.

According to rising senior Dominic Peraino, Director of Metrics for the Speech and Debate team, attendees will work on four main skills in classes throughout the week, building up to a final test of their new knowledge.

“Argumentation Refutation is one (class), Research and Speechwriting, Physical and Verbal Delivery, and Limited Prep,” Peraino said. “Every day, they rotate through one of the classes, and on the fifth day, there’s a tournament where they put all of the skills they’ve learned to the test.”

According to rising senior Andrew Gao, co-captain of the Speech and Debate team, the basics that students learn this week can be applied to settings beyond a heated debate.

“I’m pretty sure every single skill can be applied to (outside settings),” Gao said. “The ability to make a strong argument–the ability to persuade somebody about a topic–that’s a skill you can use in class presentations, jobs, when you’re trying to convince your parents. It’s everywhere.”

In addition to preparing youth for a lifetime of presentations, one of Speek Week’s benefits is the additional aid in funding it gives to the Speech and Debate team, Gao said.

“(Entrance costs) $110, and the money goes to the actual funding of our team,” Gao said. “When you want to fund clubs to pay for bus transportation to go to different tournaments–just paying the fees for tournaments–you have to raise money somehow, so in a way Speak Week is our creative way of raising money.”

According to Gao, if students showed interest in the activities throughout the week, there is a club for them at MHS.

“If the kids liked Speak Week, they should join Speech and Debate Team,” Gao said.