Pelham’s outstanding debatersPublished 1:49pm Monday, March 24, 2014
By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
“Kane Agan and Jacob McKinstry earned top 10 out of all the public forum teams statewide at Montgomery Academy’s Debate Tournament. They represented Pelham competing against teams from Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Hoover, Altamont and many other private schools,” said PHS Debate Coach Lindsey Rigdon.
When Pelham High School’s Debate Team needed a coach last year, PHS English teacher Lindsey Rigdon was the prime candidate. Eager to take on the role of speech teacher, personable and detail-oriented Rigdon has enjoyed watching this team discover their talent.
Rigdon credits the team’s devotion and strong leadership for their success. “I always tell these students that their accomplishments are a result of their efforts. This team is prepared for every tournament. I leave all the research and case-building up to them—which takes a lot of preparation on their part.”
PHS Debaters credit their coach.
“Mrs. Rigdon is outstanding,” said senior Kane Agan. “She jumped on board quickly and is incredibly supportive. We’re ridiculously happy to have her as our coach.”
Even as Rigdon began as debate coach, the team earned success. At September’s Vestavia Hills Novice Tournament, Pelham’s Ben Travis and Jacob McKinstry won first place. Jacob McKinstry and Cheyanna Rausch were honored as the top 10 individual speakers for public forum.
“The team has evolved from me leading the instruction to the debaters taking an active role,” said Rigdon. “They lead discussions on upcoming tournaments, coordinate practice sessions, plan fundraisers and design debate team shirts. My role is purely to let them shine.”
However, Rigdon’s debaters realize that she has been vital to their success. “Mrs. Rigdon has shown exceptional talent and skill in organizing the team’s events and members,” said PHS junior Jake McKinstry.
“Teaching speech and having seventh period debate has provided wonderful opportunities,” said Rigdon. “We’ve held mock debates in speech and generated interest in the team.”
“Being the debate coach has made me a better teacher and speaker on my little stage located in room 157!” said Rigdon.
Watching my once shy student Lindsey Aldridge teach as my confident colleague Lindsey Rigdon is a daily joy.