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Speaking to the Crowd

Cindy Ramunno
Preston Utley/Vail DailyBattle Mountain senior Josie Sutner says debate was a natural activity because she's never had a problem speaking her mind
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Battle Mountain senior Josie Sutner, along with her dad, Josh, moved to the valley from the Boulder area at the end of her eighth-grade year and enrolled in Minturn Middle School. When she started high school, she involved herself in Speech and Debate, National Honors Society, FBLA, alpine ski racing and theater. And through those activities, something really stood out ” this girl can process her thoughts and have those thoughts come out of her mouth exactly as she intends.

“I am a very opinionated person and thus speaking my mind ” be it in public or in private ” has always come very naturally,” says Sutner, who learned about the Speech and Debate program as an incoming freshman. “I joined right away because I liked to argue, and I thought it would be fun to put my ‘skill’ to use.” Soon after, Sutner began competing in both One-on-One Value Debate and Impromptu Speaking. This year, she was the state champ for Impromptu.

Although it comes naturally for Sutner, competing can be somewhat nerve-racking.



“It is always a little humiliating when you get a little excited and stumble over words,” explains Sutner. She has a harder time in front of people she knows rather than a room full of strangers. “This year at the state competition, my considerably intimidating debate coach, Phil Qualman, watched my final round, which would decide the state champion. I was nervous and embarrassed to debate in front of an actual acquaintance; usually the audience were strangers, but it ended well because I won,” says Sutner. BMHS teacher Dave Cope says Sutner is a great girl. “You will not encounter a more grateful and appreciative student than Josie. There is no sense of entitlement in her, and she values her education perhaps more than any student I have met in over a decade of teaching,” says Cope.

Cope also says, “Josh has raised a remarkable daughter.” Is her dad just as sharp with the words as she is? “Not particularly, in fact, when my dad get into our occasional arguments, they usually end with him proclaiming that ‘this is not Speech and Debate!'” says Sutner. Her advice to kids who want to improve their public speaking is to not use “um” as a filler. “It just makes you sound unsure of yourself,” explains Sutner. She also advises to make eye contact with the audience, take deep breaths and smile.



This summer, Sutner plans to work a lot, hang out with friends and hopefully be involved with Vail Community Theater. In the fall, she’s moving to New York City and starting college at Columbia University.

“I have no definite plans for a major but am thinking something involved with either specialized medicine or business,” she says.

When asked who her heroes are, Sutner doesn’t hesitate.



“Elizabeth Blackwell because she conquered subservience and became the first certified woman doctor, my dad because he’s been there for me throughout the scary teenage years and Riley Pack because he’s the bravest person I’ve ever met.”

Vail, Colorado


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