Speech open house concludes season, recognizes seniors

Shayne Mazur

Greybull High School Speech and Debate hosted its annual community open house last Tuesday at the high school where several students gave a final performance of their pieces and received recognition for their 2022-23 season achievements.

The evening kicked off with refreshments before attendees moved to different rooms that featured performances by seniors Isaac Hoffman and Riley Thomas, juniors Tyler Searfoss and Shay Williams, sophomores Grainger Russell and Gabriel VanderPloeg and freshman CJ Fink.

The crowd then gathered in the auditorium where coach Joel Kuper presented individual distinctions and recognized the speech and debate careers of senior members.

Greybull took third in 1A/2A at the Wyoming State Speech tournament in March and brought home first- and second-place plaques from nine other tournaments over the course of the season.

Isaac Hoffman, Riley Thomas and Tyler Searfoss claimed individual state championships in 1A/2A as well in Informative Speaking, Oratory and Congressional Debate, respectively. 

Hoffman also qualified in Informative at the season’s NSDA national qualifier for the second year running. He will be attending the 2023 NSDA National Tournament in Phoenix in June.

Speech students receive letters when they earn 100 points in a season. Searfoss, VanderPloeg and Williams each earned their first letter this year. Russell earned his second, Hoffman his third and Thomas her fourth.

Kuper also recognized the top point earners in each grade: Fink earned 60 points as a freshman; Russell earned 289 points as a sophomore; Searfoss earned 204 points as a junior and Hoffman earned 579 points as a senior.

Seniors received distinctions for the number of points they earned over the course of their speech and debate careers.

Honor awards went to Cannon Cook and Catcher Russell for collecting over 50 points. 

For racking up more than 750 points, Thomas earned a Superior Distinction. She also received her second service award, a recognition “provided to students who provide their time to benefit the team in some manner other than competitive speaking. This includes working at meets, judging and mentoring middle school students, donating time for team fundraisers (and) speaking in front of community groups,” said Kuper.

Hoffman secured a Premier Distinction for collecting more than 1,500 points over his high school career. “It is the highest degree a student can earn and is only awarded nationally to less than 1% of all NSDA competitors,” Kuper said.

Hoffman stands at 1,587 points, which currently makes him the second-highest point scorer of all time on GHS Speech and Debate records.

Other awards included:

Outstanding Novice – Tyler Searfoss

Outstanding Varsity – Isaac Hoffman

Greatest Point Gain – Gabriel VanderPloeg (142 points)

Outstanding Debater – Tyler Searfoss

Most Improved – Gabriel VanderPloeg

Student Ambassador Award – Isaac Hoffman

Team MVP – Isaac Hoffman

Coach’s Award – Riley Thomas

Special Recognition Award – Marla Taylor-Thomas

Team participation certificates were given to all the students listed above as well as freshman Lucian Hoffman and juniors Chris Dalin, Cadence Fostervold, Josselyn Jara and Jonah Oster.