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Patrick Heath competes at Speech and Debate Nationals
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Patrick Heath

Great Bend High School sophomore Patrick Heath competed in the 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. last week.
The National Speech and Debate Association held the largest academic competition in the world -- the 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament, in Fort Lauderdale -- June 17-22. The tournament was hosted by Broward County Public Schools. Patrick Heath represented Great Bend High School in the tournament.
“This is the capstone event in the speech and debate community for our students and coaches,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “We are thrilled to have more than 4,000 of the brightest students from across the world in Fort Lauderdale.
“The students competing at the National Tournament are truly the best of the best,” said Wunn. “These students have outstanding talents, and go on to be successful college graduates and future leaders in their local communities as well as on a national level too.”
To qualify for this premier event, students across the country in all 50 states competed during the spring in 110 District Tournaments. Patrick qualified in the West Kansas District tournament held last April. From more than 150,000 student members, less than 3% qualify for nationals.
To prepare for the tournament, Patrick worked with both retiring coach, Mrs. Barbara Watson, and his mother and in-coming coach, Mrs. Kim Heath. Mrs. Watson said that Heath was a dedicated competitor who worked diligently to improve and perfect his speech. She explained, “Patrick set up a practice schedule and worked with me to prepare for his national tournament events for two hours at a time, sometimes for even four hours at a time; in addition to the work he was doing with his parents. I was very impressed with his ability to focus for that long as a sophomore in high school. I was very proud of him.” Mrs. Watson felt that, “his performances were amazing, but all of the performances at nationals are amazing. I am so happy that Patrick was able to have this experience this year.”
Patrick delivered his speech, highlighting the innovations of Elon Musk, in the informative division. While he did not advance to the elimination rounds, Patrick felt that he really grew from the experience. Heath said, “Some of the students I competed against were amazingly talented and creative. I was very impressed with both their speeches and visual aids. I am already planning how I will take what I learned and use it to get even better next year.”
Kim Heath, who coached Patrick while at the tournament, noted, “Patrick enjoyed the experience of watching different styles and ideas from across the country. He competed against students who advanced to semi-finals and finals, so he saw some really excellent speeches. He gained a broader understanding of the activity and what he will need to do to succeed in the future.” Kim Heath enjoyed the tournament saying that, “experiencing the tournament with just Patrick was both good mother-son time, and also a nice way for me to ease back into the role of coach. I am so grateful to Mrs. Watson for the help she provided in preparing him.”
In addition to his main event of Informative speaking, Patrick also competed in Poetry Interpretation and Impromptu Speaking. In Poetry, Patrick presented a piece of work by poet and teacher-advocate Taylor Mali called “Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior.” Patrick chose this poem because it illustrates how teachers impact their students’ lives. In Impromptu, Patrick was given a choice of three topics and had a total of 7 minutes to both prepare and deliver a speech. Topics ranged from the abstract to the concrete.