November 4, 2022
Earlier this week, Bangor High School hosted the first debate tournament since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020. The tournament included 13 schools, 75 competitors, multiple community volunteers, and a few recent BHS alumni.
“We did very well!” said Mr. Matthew Leland, BHS Debate and Speech Team Coach and Science Teacher. “Our team is composed mostly of the younger classes. This was supposed to be a regrowth year, but they have a chance to win it all if they keep working at it.”.
Elizabeth Shum, ‘25 and Kaitlyn Kelleter, ‘25 placed first and second respectively in the Varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate category. Brayden Sloan, ‘26 placed second in the novice Lincoln- Douglas debate category. Bangor students Beatrix Foster, ‘26 and Greyson Ksikvas, ‘24 received honorable mentions in the novice Lincoln Douglas debate category and Parker Tracy, ‘26 received an honorable mention in the Congressional debate category. Overall, Bangor placed second in debate and third in Congressional debate.
Kaitlyn Kelleter, ‘25 (Right) gives her rebuttal to Elizabeth Shum, ‘25 (left) in the recent debate at BHS.
Between debates, judges and volunteers were able to relax and have lunch in the library, giving one BHS teacher the opportunity to catch up with a former student who had graduated eight years ago.
BHS History Teacher and Former Debate Team Coach Joseph Pelletier (left) with Brennan MacDonald, Class of 2014.
Brennan MacDonald, Class of 2014, decided to volunteer as a debate judge after hearing from his former coach. “Mr. Pelletier put out a call that BHS was holding the first in person tournament since the pandemic and since I was in the area, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to judge and give back to what was a really great program for me when I was a student here. Participating on the debate team was something that has helped me immeasurably professionally and socially since I left Bangor 8 years ago.” Brennan is an army reservist who recently came off active duty in the army, and is starting graduate school in the area. “Communication is key and a big part of being an army officer. Things that I learned in speech and debate helped me to convey important information to superior officers. Debate is a way to build confidence in speaking and it definitely helped me.”
MacDonald speaks highly of his time as a member of the BHS Debate team. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere and a great community. It’s competitive during the tournaments, but at the end of the day it is a caring community that wants everyone to develop and improve their skills.” Brennan was thankful for the opportunity to volunteer. “It was a great experience to volunteer and give back to my alma mater. My success is due to being a product of the Bangor School Department and growing up in this community. It is a privilege to be able to give back to my school for all that it has given me.”
“In the 30 years I coached Debate and Speech,” stated Mr. Pelletier, “I was privileged to work with some incredible students and get to know them personally over the years. It is heartening to see the many avenues and careers that Speech and Debate opened to them. Many have kept in touch after high school and college, and we’ve always encouraged them to give back to forensic competition by returning to judge at tournaments. The chance to catch up with them and talk about their careers and life plans is a priceless gift to their old coach.”
The next debate will take place virtually November 5. The Debate team travels to Deering High School in Portland, November 19 for their next in person tournament.