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Greenhills speech coaches capture two top awards

A pair of Greenhills coaches scored a double triumph May 21 as Sam Bagenstos and Barbara Ebeling were named Michigan High School Debate and Middle School Individual Events Coaches of the Year, respectively, by Michigan Speech Coaches, Inc. 

Ebeling and Bagenstos received the awards at Mackinac Island’s historic Grand Hotel.

“Greenhills’ students would not have been able to accomplish what they have without the complementary skills of both coaches,” a statement from MSCI said.

Ebeling is a familiar presence in the Greenhills public speaking community, having been in charge of speech programs here since 1994. The Middle School teams, which have grown from 20 students in 1994 to 70 students this year, routinely qualify many students as semifinalists and finalists in various events at the state tournament.

Bagenstos, a Greenhills parent and a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, began coaching the debate team three years ago. Since then his teams have fielded finalists regularly, including at both novice and varsity state competitions this year. Seven of his debaters won individual speaker awards at least once this year, and teams reached elimination rounds at national tournaments in Lexington, Mass. and at Millard North in Nebraska.

“It was a surprise and an incredible honor to be recognized with this award,” Bagenstos said. “Greenhills has maintained a tradition of excellence in speech activities for many years, and I am proud to have had the chance to work with the school’s students to help build a debate team worthy of that legacy.”

Ebeling agreed.

“Speech activities are a vital part of a well-rounded education. Students learn to ask questions, think critically, embrace creativity, argue logically, and speak eloquently,” she said. “The confidence built through participation in the Individual Events program lasts a lifetime.”

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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