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When students have opportunities to speak in public at a young age, they gain confidence and skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be coached by Mike Shackelford, and he deserves immense amounts of praise for both the success Rowland Hall has found debating and the truly uplifting and positive environment on the team.—Layla Hijjawi ’23, Harvard University

Debate is an essential element of an educated, productive, and ethical community. It fosters critical thinking and communication skills for the 21st century while providing students with a forum to nurture their sense of advocacy. While debate intentionally appears across the curriculum, it's our competitive team, led by celebrated coach Mike Shackelford, that distinguishes Rowland Hall as the strongest debate program in the Intermountain West. Rowland Hall was recognized as a Debate School of Excellence by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) in 2010 and is consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of schools nationwide for member degrees. In addition, our debate team has claimed the last four overall 3A speech and debate state championships (2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024).

Meet Mikee

  • 2019 Utah High School Activities Association Speech Educator of the Year
  • 2017–2018 NSDA State Educator of the Year for Utah
  • 2016 National District Chair of the Year for his leadership in the NSDA
  • 2014 Utah Debate Coaches Association Policy Debate Coach of the Year
  • Debaters who excel get to call Mr. Shackelford "Mikee"

Full Bio

Background Info

Middle School and Upper School Debate Courses

Debate News in Fine Print Magazine

A national orientation inspires us to work harder to defeat major debate schools across the country, and incentivizes a stronger feeling of community.—Caroline Nielsen ’12, Pomona College

Nothing forges lifelong memories like debate. The preparation, the struggles of competition, the travel, and the freedom to share your thoughts; they all contribute to a strong shared experience that results in lasting friendships.—Jordan Friedman ’10, University of Southern California

Debate was the most important class I took here. From the analytical reasoning, fast-paced thinking, and exposure to materials not presented in any core class, debate enriched my high school experience in more ways than I can even say.—Cyrus Akrami ’07, Dartmouth College

These kids are incredible! It’s easy to say, but it’s harder to actually comprehend how much work this team puts in to consistently remain nationally competitive and locally dominant.—Layla Hijjawi ’23, Harvard University

Debate helped me develop a voice. I'm more confident in expressing my opinions and I know how to respectfully disagree with others and argue my thoughts.—Rustin Armknecht ’16, Lafayette College

More Testimonials (PDF)

Debate students

You Belong at Rowland Hall