Yesterday I got a text from my god father asking if I had gone to Desert Vista for high school. He then recommended I watch a speech from a Georgia Tech sophomore that has been going viral. He is an alumni of my high school and as the minutes of his speech started ticking past, I started to notice some striking similarities between his speech and the speeches of many of my friends in high school.
For two years at Desert Vista I was part of the Speech, Theater, and Debate team. I learned more in those two years about successfully speaking, writing, editing, and motivating than I have in any other setting in my life. I learned the value of hard work, the difference a bit of confidence makes, and that being successful does not always mean losing your fun side. To this day, I’m extremely comfortable speaking in front of crowds and I walked away from the program with many national speaking awards that still make me smile when I think about them.
For those who have never heard of or experienced the underground world of Forensics, there is a very specific way of doing things. We are taught how to dress professionally, the technique of the craft (such as how to hold your black book, the best way to pause for effect, when to cry and when to stop, or a technique known as “popping” which is the way to transition between characters), and through it we sort of develop a style of speaking and a set of mannerisms that are extremely specific to those of us who have been part of the club. Watching Nick Selby’s speech, these ticks, dramatic pauses, facial expressions, and even some of his quotes immediately clued me in to the fact that he was on Desert Vista’s Speech team. And you know what? I’ve never been more proud of my past.
When you tell people you did “Speech and Debate” in high school they picture you at a podium with nerdy kids in glasses talking about politics. In this day and age, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Speech is competitive acting or competitive writing depending on the event. Debate is a room full of extremely intelligent high school students discussing very relevant events. It’s hours upon hours of research, practice, coaching, critiques, and, for me, lots of tears. It leaves you with this amazing skill set and while I generally avoid talking about my past because I like to avoid comments such as, “OH MY GOD YOU DID DEBATE?! DEBATE ME! WERE YOU A MASTER DEBATER?!”. My hope is that Nick Selby’s speech can give young students the power to ignore this questions and the ridicule that goes along with being a “Speech & Geek” and instead, own the fact that after they walk out of high school, their skills will be idolized and do nothing but propel them towards great success.
Excuse me while I go re-read my old ballots (kept them all) and practice my pops in the mirror. For all of the kids who spend their days practicing ridiculous voices, moving in weird positions asking if it “fits” a certain character type, and getting made fun of for going to bed early on Friday night because they have to get up at 4 for the tournament the next morning – keep doing what you’re doing because it will take your far in life.
For those who haven’t had the chance to see Nick’s speech yet, I’ve included it below.