Bozeman High speech and debate team showcases talents

Riding the late-January triumph of its first state championship in six years, the Bozeman Hawkers speech and debate squad also took top team honors in the mid-February regional qualifier and will send 12 students to compete at the national tournament in Salt Lake City this summer.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and the individuals who will be representing Montana at the premier high school forensics event in the country,” Hawker head coach Adam Thane said. “But in order to get the kids to Salt Lake, we really need the support of the community.”

To raise the necessary funds, the Bozeman Hawkers invite the public to an evening called “Meet the Hawkers” showcasing the talents of Bozeman’s top competitors. The event will be held Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in the Emerson Cultural Center’s Crawford Ballroom.

“It’s a rare opportunity for community members to see our speech and debaters in action and judging by the response from years past, people seem to really enjoy it,” Thane said.

The Bozeman Hawkers are known throughout the region and the team’s success over the years has made it one of the most heralded extra-curricular programs at the high school. Its alumni have gone on to become a U.S. ambassador to Russia, U.S. legislators, scholars, heads of major businesses, teachers, doctors, writers and more.

The Hawkers that competed in the 2015-2016 season are extraordinarily diverse. From soccer goalies to physics prodigies, to ballerinas, they are united by a love for going head-to-head in the non-physical sport of forensics.

The 12 members headed to the national tournament are Katie Ellig and Emma Bowen in Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Kayleigh Abbott and Ava Snow, as well as partners Rachel Schmidt and Devin Mahoney in Policy Debate; partners Marty Smith and Pushya Krishna, and partners Ali Garnsey and Ethan Hanley in Public Forum Debate; Justice Geddes in Dramatic Interpretation; as well as Isabel Bowen in Program Oral Interpretation.

The April 22 showcase promises to be a special evening, featuring performances from these qualifiers as well as other talented Hawkers. Along with entertainment from the team, the night will include a raffle and silent auction.

Raffle prizes include a Haro Flightline Two mountain bike; original art by local artists such as Michael and Meagan Abra Blessing, Kara Fellows-Tripp, Shirley Robinett, and Sarah Angst; restaurant gift cards; a whitewater rafting trip; as well as weekend passes for both Targhee Fest and Targhee Bluegrass Festival at this summer at Grand Targhee Resort, among other prizes.

The event is free and all raffle proceeds will be used for the Hawkers’ travel, lodging and meals in Salt Lake City.

For more information, contact Reni Kessinger at (406) 581-4981 or