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CCSD Summer: No debate about it, speech arts camp is life-changing

Speech arts ca,[Vivan Prabhu first attended the summer speech arts camp at Cherry Creek High School five years ago.

“I started at this camp when I was going into my first year of middle school, so sixth grade,” Prabhu recalled. “I always remember having a lot of fun.”

So much fun, in fact, that he attended the camp every summer during middle school. Now, as a rising junior at CCHS and a member of the school’s speech and debate club, he works at the camp.

“Going to this camp for three years as a student, it not only prepared me, it gave me even more passion for debate,” he said. “Now that I’m in high school, I want to try to give people that kind of passion.”

He and Ben Xu, a 2022 CCHS graduate, work with fifth- through ninth-grade students for a week in June.

“I’ve always loved debate and I feel like it’s really helpful for these kids,” said Xu, who will study finance and entrepreneurship at Babson College this fall. “It’s fun too, because the kids are fun.”

Speech arts campOn June 8, the campers presented a demonstration speech, by themselves or in small groups. The goal was to teach their classmates how to do something. Gauri Turlapati and Namrata Dalal explained and showed their fellow students how to play a Harry Potter game. Afterward, they shared their reasons for participating in the camp.

“First of all, because my mom signed me up,” laughed Turlapati, who is going into fifth grade at Cottonwood Creek Elementary. “And I like to debate. My dad thinks it’s really important.”

“I thought it would be fun to learn how to argue and debate,” said Dalal, who will be a fourth grader at Cottonwood Creek.

Both students say they are learning valuable skills.

“We’ve done debates and demonstrations, to learn how to not be afraid of doing things, even if you mess up,” Dalal said.

“I’m learning how to debate and argue and getting more confident speaking in front of crowds,” Turlapati added.

Peggy Benedict, who taught at Cherry Creek High School and sponsored the speech and debate team for 20 years, runs the camp and knows that it benefits the campers in myriad ways.

"We’re working on logic, their thinking skills, the ability to have an opinion,” Benedict said. “We teach them poise, confidence and the ability to speak. We use speaking skills every day in everything we do.

“You need to know how to communicate and be confident and we use it in all walks of life,” she added.

Cherry Creek Schools offers a variety of summer sports and activity camps across the district. The camps align with the district’s core values of Growth Mindset - developing our abilities through hard work and dedication to continuous improvement, and Engagement - encouraging curiosity and investment in learning so that students feel seen and valued. Get more information about the camps here.

Posted 6/15/2022.