Until this past year, Caleb Leonard didn’t know Rotary Clubs existed.
That changed thanks to Jenna Sutton, the long-time Argyle High School teacher sponsor/school mother of what is now called the Cross Timbers Rotary Challenge
Day Club. Through her, Caleb became a junior Rotarian and put his debate background to good use by succeeding in the four-way test which asks, “is it the truth, will it promote
goodwill, will it promote friendship, and is it beneficial?” Speaking on book banning, he advanced through multiple levels and finished second in district in Mineral Wells in May.
“I talked about the dangers and harm of book banning and how, in my personal opinion, it’s not a beneficial practice,” said the 17-year-old senior-to-be. “It came up in the news, and I wanted to talk about it. “It was definitely fun,” Caleb said. “It was something that I didn’t know what to expect going in. But since I had done so many debate speeches, I had a good idea of what I needed to do there. It was different, but it was awesome to hear the different topics everyone talked about.” Caleb first became interested in debate through a seventh-grade oral reading class.
Once former Argyle High School debate coach Jessica Reynolds found out about it, she encouraged him to try the prose and poetry part of the debate team. He competed in prose as a freshman, missing district level by just one point. He found it fun, joined the class and worked on congressional debate as a sophomore. He competed at state both his sophomore and junior years and regionals for extend and poetry plus congressional debate at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Phoenix in mid-June where he advanced to the second round. “There were 500-600 kids there, and it’s hard to qualify because there are tournaments all over,” Caleb said. “It was a really cool experience. I think I competed for over 20 hours over the course of three days.” Caleb, a North Texas native who moved to Argyle from Oregon eight years ago, was homeschooled until seventh grade. A member of the National Honor Society, he scored 1,380 on his first attempt at the SAT.
He hopes to major in musical theater. He portrayed the father in the Pride and Prejudice one-act play this past year that made it to state, and he also has done community theater and taken voice lessons. “I haven’t gotten too much rest this past school year,” he said.