JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole High School Speech and Debate Team earned a first-place trophy this past weekend at the Evanston Invitational held in Evanston, WY, Dec. 16-17 with five schools in attendance.

Jackson competed with 13 students, each bringing home a top finish in at least one of their events. Coached by Londe and Peggy Gagnon, the Jackson team placed first in their 3A division and first overall at the tournament by earning 184 sweepstakes points. 

Senior and team captain, Julieta Anaya, led the way for the team as the champion in Program Oral Interpretation, receiving first-place ballots from every judge in both preliminary rounds and the final round. Anaya went on to become the champion in Poetry Interpretation, performing selections about “the fear of not being good enough.”

Senior Ventura Garcia Perez also had a rewarding tournament with a second-place finish in Dramatic Interpretation and a second-place finish in Congressional Debate. He also walked away as the champion in Impromptu Speaking. Junior James Neishabouri was named the champion in the Congressional Debate. He also earned a seventh-place finish in Impromptu Speaking. He went on to team up with a partner, junior Jackson Neishabouri, to win first place in Public Forum Debate. Neishabouri went on to place third in Extemporaneous Speaking and finished in the top ten for Impromptu Speaking. 

The Evanston tournament marks the final tournament of the season with a novice category of events. The team travels next to Hot Springs on Jan. 6, 2023, where all competitors will compete as varsity.  

The team is planning its own invitational tournament on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 – 21, 2023. For the home tournament, the Speech Team is in need of around 300 volunteers to judge for approximately an hour and a half each. Judging guidelines will be provided and several practice judging sessions will be offered. Judging experience is not required. Events include Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum, Congressional and Cross Examination Debate, Student Congress, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Humor, Drama, Poetry, Program Oral Interpretation, Informative Speaking, Impromptu and Duet.

Refreshments and free babysitting will be provided for the voluntary judges. For those able to volunteer anytime from 2 p.m. Friday afternoon until 9 p.m. Friday evening, or from 8 a.m. Saturday until 4 p.m. Saturday, email coach Londe Gagnon at lgagnon@tcsd.org or sign up here.                  

Buckrail @ Toby

Toby Koekkoek is a Community News Reporter, and a recent resident of Teton Valley. He enjoys writing about our region's community events and the movers and shakers that make up the culture of this unique mountain town. He enjoys deep powder, and deep thoughts, skateboarding, playing racquet sports, riding his bike, and nerding out on music. Toby also coaches freeride skiing for the Jackson Hole Ski Club and runs skateboard camps in the summer.