There’s no debating this point: Speech is important

Muscatine Journal

MUSCATINE, Iowa — For the past several years, the Muscatine School Board had a front-row seat to  Muscatine High School student Davis Schrock’s developing speech skills.

His love for entertaining would shine through at the Board’s meetings as Schrock provided examples of competition pieces used by the MHS Speech and Debate Team.

During Monday night’s Muscatine School Board meeting, Schrock, a 2012 MHS graduate, came before the board again, this time with a different message.

He asked the board to remember and honor the many gifts the Speech and Debate team brings to its members, and to support the organization that’s brought Schrock joy and success.

“To think that a small eighth-grade boy who just wanted to make people laugh would transform into a senior with four national qualifiers, two state championships, all-time speaker in MHS history, nationally ranked at 39th and a tenth-level service award — one of three in the nation — is beyond me,” Schrock told the board. “It has taught me so much and been so rewarding.”

Schrock, who attended the meeting with his coach, Anna Payne, said Payne and former coach Valerie Ahmann were excellent role models for the team.

He recalled being in eighth-grade when Ahmann invited Schrock to participate in forensics.

“I also remember thinking, ‘Totally! I love ‘C.S.I.’” Schrock quipped.

Though the district has not announced plans to end the MHS speech and debate  program, Schrock said funding for the club has been a concern.

Schrock, the son of Joy and Gary Schrock of Muscatine, said that during his years at MHS he sold  cookies and solicited donations from family members to raise $800 for the organization.

“I do understand that money is tight and proper funding is a lot to ask for,” said Schrock. “But I am asking for it. It would break my heart and many other alumni’s hearts to see the program die.”

Schrock told the Board that forensics inspires students to conduct themselves in a mature way and shun peer pressure.

“It teaches us to dress professionally and carry ourselves at a higher manner than most teenagers,” said Schrock. “ … It teaches us that we have a voice and we can use it in a manner that doesn’t involve 18 billion cuss words or ‘like,’ and ‘um,’ every three words.”

Schrock, who plans to enter the U.S. Army on Sept. 11 before he attends the University of Northern Iowa to pursue a teaching career, said speech and debate taught him that communication is the key to success.

“It’s not just me,” said Schrock. “It’s a whole group of kids that just want to be heard.”

Board president Tim Bower said he noticed a hint of tears in his fellow board members’ eyes as Schrock shook hands with them.

“I completely understand,” said Bower. “To see these kids roll through every year and knowing that there’s another group just as great behind them is what keeps us going.”