TEAM PICTURE: The Raymond Central Junior High Speech team gets ready prepares for its early morning trip to Dallas, Texas. The team, consisting of (from left) Assistant Coach Kent Millington, Olivia Nelson, Emma Hunt, Alannah Crabtree, Kamarin Simmons, Madison Habener, assistant coach Carolyn Enevoldsen, Cassie Osmera, Rosalie Tvrdy and Coach Jeff Nelson, will compete in the National Speech and Debate Tournament this Wednesday through Friday. Not pictures is teammate Veronica Fritsch. (Staff Photo by Clayton Karloff)

RAYMOND – The Raymond Centrals Junior High Speech team is competing this week against many other schools at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas.

Raymond Central High School Speech and Drama Instructor Jeff Nelson said the school’s team is competing Wednesday through Friday in this year’s Nationals. There are eight students, all seventh grade students. This year will only be the school’s second year at the competition.

“We never had done it before last year,” Nelson said.

Last year, two Raymond Central students competed and made it to the finals, with one of them, Olivia Nelson, winning Nationals entirely. This year, the team is hoping to continue that trend.

“It’d be awesome to get another student in the finals,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that while he’d be excited to have students reach finals again, he hoped more for this Nationals experience to help his students grow.

“I hope everyone has an ‘aha!’ moment, using the Nationals as a stepping stone to grow,” Nelson said.

The coach wasn’t worried too much about performances and was looking forward to the experience.

“The kids are very competitive and they all have the chance to be competitive nationally. They hold themselves to high standards and work incredibly hard. It’s their key strength,” he said.

He added that the team has great experience with working as a cohesive unit, rather than a gathering of individuals.

In the past, team members have competed together by collaborating on which categories to compete in and earn team points, rather than just competing in the categories they wanted to do as individuals.

“This group really understands the concept of the team and are incredibly supportive of each other,” Nelson said.

Members of the Raymond Central Junior High Speech team going to Nationals are Olivia Nelson, Emma Hunt, Alannah Crabtree, Kamarin Simmons, Madison Habener, Cassie Osmera, Rosalie Tvrdy and Veronica Fritsch.

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