Debate Program at Providence Hall High School

Our Instructor – Steve Porter

Mr. Porter started his path with debate when he was a high school student himself. He was regional champion during his senior year, placed in state, and even went to nationals twice. He went on to get his history degree from Brigham Young University and is currently pursuing his graduate work with Utah State University. He started with Providence Hall’s debate program as an assistant coach and is now head coach. He leads students by helping them to gain the experience they need to be successful and by encouraging open dialogue.

Our Program

The debate program at Providence Hall High School is for students in grades 9-12. Students may participate in the program through our classes or the after school program. We strive to foster a healthy environment for students of all levels—from novice to varsity. As part of our program, varsity students work with novices to help them learn the ropes of debate. We are proud to provide a program where we look out for each other.

Have Fun. Get to Your Round. Keep Learning.

Those are our program’s three rules. We hope to keep fun at the center of everything we do—whether we’re in the classroom or at a competition. When we compete, we make sure that we get to each round. No matter how hard it gets, we keep on going. We learn to do hard things! We value knowledge and focus on making sure that we learn every single time we go to a debate round.

How Can Students Benefit from Debate?

Participating in debate can be highly rewarding experience for students! It’s a great way to make friends and to have a great discussion with your peers. In the words of Mr. Porter, “You will always need to know how to communicate”. Other benefits include academic progress and scholarship opportunities. Students who do debate typically do better on tests and many colleges offer debate scholarships.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Do students get to travel for debates?
We often travel to other schools around the Salt Lake Valley. If we go to state or national championships, we may travel to other areas of the state or even to other states. For example, we’ve gone to the state championship in Moab and nationals in Dallas in previous years.

Do students need to pay for travel?
There is a $100 fee for participating. This covers entrance fees for debates and traveling costs. Extra donations are accepted.

How many formal debates do students participate in per school year?
We go to 10 tournaments a year, including National Qualifiers, Region, and State.

What subjects do students get to debate in?
The subjects that we cover vary, but we often focus on morality, hypothetical government policies, and mainstream issues. Certain speech events may be geared around motivational speeches rather than traditional debate.

How are students graded?
Student grades are based purely off of participation and whether or not they’re creating their cases and helping each other out.

What do students need to do to prepare for the class?
If students want to join the debate program, the first thing they should do is be aware of what’s going on around them. Watch the news, start writing, and learn to have fun conversations with their friends where they can banter back and forth.

Who belongs in debate?
This is a program for everyone! Just like how the movie Ratatouille’s character Gusteau’s motto is “Anyone can cook”, we believe that anyone can debate. With an experienced teacher and supportive classmates at their side, we believe that any student novice can grow to be a great debater.

Success Highlights

  • 2019 State Champions
  • 2018-2019 Region Champions (3A District 16)
  • 2016-2019 students have gone to National
  • 2018 1st place at the Patriot Pride Tournament
  • 2016-2018 3rd place State Champions

2019 Student Successes

2019 State Champions:
Monique Cauley – National Extemp
Tanner Christensen – Foreign Extemp
Kyra Silcox – Impromptu
Hailee Martin – Congress

2019 National Qualifiers from the Sundance District
Monique Cauley – National Extemp
Kaydee Jacobsen and Tanner Christensen – Public Forum
Tiffany Chan – National Extemp
Hailee Martin – Congress

2019 Region Champions
Monique Cauley and Kyra Silcox – Public Forum
Tanner Christensen and Carol Contreras-Tellez – Foreign Extemp
Monique Cauley – National Extemp

Ready to Get Involved in Debate?

Can you see yourself tactfully crafting arguments and digging deep into research topics? If so, it’s time to start thinking about joining our debate program. Talk with your parents and school counselor about participating in debate at Providence Hall. We’d love to have you join one of our classes, or even our after school program. Also, feel free to stop by the debate classroom and talk with our instructor Mr. Porter about the program.

Other Extracurricular Activities”

Providence Hall Elementary

4795 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 727-8282

Providence Hall Junior High

4558 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801)-432-8496

Providence Hall High School

4557 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 253-4997