Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Speech competitions help one GRHS student cope with bullying

 

April 12, 2017

Courtesy photo

Colt Parson holds the 2017 4A Division State Trophy and his Student Ambassador Award.

Blending in wasn't something Colt Parson would say he did well in at school. 

"I'm an Aspergers kid, so often times I had a problem fitting in," Parson said.

Although Parson said he has "a mild case" of Aspergers, he could still tell.

"It made me different from everybody," he said.

According to webmd.com, "Although there are many possible symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, the main symptom is significant trouble with social situations. Your child may have mild to severe symptoms or have a few or many of these symptoms. Because of the wide variety of symptoms, no two children with Asperger's are alike."

Children with Asperger's syndrome may not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation or learn to take turns talking, the website states.

This was the case with Parson and he knew it.

"Whenever I thought someone was joking with me they were insulting me," Parson said. "Whenever I thought someone was insulting me they were joking with me."

Not picking up on social cues caused Parson some problems. He became withdrawn and often wouldn't talk to anyone. He became very quiet. He figured not saying anything at all was the best way to cope.

"It lead to people being absolutely mean to me," Parson said.

At Monroe Intermediate School, Parson was told one of the worst things in his life. He said he had problems reading and was in a special reading group.

To get to the reading group he would often have stop by his desk and get his book before heading to his reading group. Parson admits that when he had to go to his reading class he would have to interrupt the student he shared a desk with. Regardless, the boy told him "Some days I just wish you were dead and not here."

Parson was shocked and didn't know what to say. He just grabbed his book and went to his reading class.

Parson also recalled how when he started Lincoln Middle School, things just seemed to get worse. He decided he wasn't going to ride the bus anymore and either walked or rode his scooter to school. Even then, he still got made fun of.

"One time a kid was throwing stuff at me while I was riding my scooter," he said. 

When Parson made his way to Green River High School, the form of the teasing changed a little bit. He said when he was a freshman, the other boys started calling him gay because he wasn't comfortable changing in front on them in the boy's locker room.

"Bullying has definitely been a big part of my life," Parson said. "It made me afraid to go to school all the time."

It was also in ninth grade that Parson decided to join the prestigious GRHS Speech and Debate team, his father was one of the coaches and Parson had been around the events most of his life.

"When I joined, I started humorous interpretation," Parson said. "I was a little freshman. I was intimidated. I really didn't have friends."

During his first year in speech and debate, Parson was new at the craft. Not only did he compete in humor, but also duet. 

In 10th grade, Parson noticed a change at the school. He was starting to make friends on the speech and debate team. One of the reasons why was a humor piece he did called "Baby Talk." His fellow teammates had respect for him to compete with a piece like that.

"I started getting friends after that," he said. 

As for the bullying, it continued, but Parson could cope.

"It wasn't as bad because I had people who had my back," Parson said.

As a junior, Parson noticed another change in people. When he entered the room as a speech and debate competitor at the tournaments, the others in the room would first smile until they realized they had to compete against him.

Parson was making quite the name for himself as a strong competitor on the speech and debate circuit.

"People would like me or not like me because they had to compete against me," Parson said.

As a senior, Parson still gets bullied, but not as much.

"Everybody gets bullied every once in a while," Parson said about high school. "Speech and debate helped me find ways to blow it off. I'm myself and I'm not going to change."

Keeping this attitude in mind helped Parson excel as speech and debate his final year. Not only did he take third in humor, at state this year, but second in duet with Sarah Kropf.

"She is a wonderful partner," Parson said. "She had enough time to put up with me."

That's not the only award he received at state this year. He was given one of six Student Ambassador Awards. This year, 12 students were nominated. Some were nominated by their own coaches, and some by coaches from other districts. 

"It's very rare for a student to get that," Parson said. "It's hard for any individual to get that. In fact, I still don't know how I got that award really."

Parson may not know who nominated him, why they did or what they said for him to receive such an award, but he appreciates it just the same.

"I never thought I'd get an award in that," Parson said. "I'd dreamed about getting that award, but I'd never thought I'd actually get it."

Courtesy Photo

Colt Parson with his duet partner, Sarah Kropf.

With this award, Parson was even more confident for the district competition. Although he did well, he fell short of making it to nationals in both humor and duet. He and his partner, Sarah Kropf, are first alternates in duet. 

"We were a little bummed that we weren't going to nationals, but we're first runner ups," Parson said.

As the year is coming to an end, Parson has had time to reflect on his time at high school and how his speech and debate career helped him survive it.

"Speech kind of helped me from not having a voice to 'Hey, I can do this. This is fun.'" he said.

"It allowed me to be myself in a competitive state and get me friends."

After high school, Parson said he plans to attend Western Wyoming Community College and obtain a welding degree.

 

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