When students have opportunities to speak in public at a young age, they gain confidence and skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
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 the 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 in 2010 and is consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of schools nationwide for member degrees. In addition, our debate team claimed back-to-back overall state championships in 2021 and 2022.
- 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"
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
Debate immerses you in a competitive environment and exposes you to controversial topics. As a young adult, I think it's incredibly important to know about current events.—Anna Greenberg ’17, Brandeis 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