Hilltalkers serve waffles, prep for state

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By Ben Carlson



The food was great and there was no room for debate when members of the high school’s Hilltalkers speech and debate team served waffle breakfasts Saturday morning at Pajarito Masonic Lodge.

The debating will come later, thanks to supporters and waffle lovers who showed up for one of the team’s largest annual fundraisers, which will help pay for trips to state and national competitions.

Dozens of customers filled tables in the Masonic Lodge as students and their parents poured batter into a lineup of waiting waffle irons while others served hefty sides of eggs, bacon, sausage grilled by Mason Rick Garland in the lodge’s kitchen.

Los Alamos resident Dale Thompson seemed pleased with Garland’s efforts as team members filled his takeout container with a small mountain of breakfast meat.

Hilltalkers’ coaches Margo Batha and Janet Newton said a strong turnout for the breakfast is one of the keys to fund the high school and middle school teams, which include about 100 students.

“It takes about $40,000 a year,” said Batha, who teaches English at the high school.

Batha said students cover about the half of the cost and the school district kicks in $6,250 a year.

The rest, she said, comes from several fundraising efforts during the year.

Batha said students often travel to Albuquerque for competitions and have to stay overnight, along with the expense of statewide and national competitions and a variety of learning materials and supplies.

That they’ll make it to nationals certainly isn’t a given, but if history is an indicator the team’s chances are strong.

“We celebrated our 50th anniversary last year and have been to nationals each of the past 38 years,” said Batha, taking a break from collecting money at the lodge’s front door. 

Sherri Bublitz coaches the middle school Hawktalkers and had a number team members on hand Saturday to help out. The team T-shirt Bublitz wore included the phrase “Civilized Warfar,” which she said sums up nicely what students learn in speech and debate.

“It teaches them they can have disagreements but discuss them civilly,” she said. “It’s good for them and they really enjoy it.”

To return to the national stage, the Hilltalkers must first get through the state competition, scheduled for March 6-8 in Santa Fe.

Batha said along with financial assistance, the team is looking for people interested in helping judge the state competition.

She said the only requirements are to be “educated, informed and engaged.”

To volunteer, e-mail Batha at m.batha@laschools.net.

The team’s next event is its Showcase, scheduled for March 21. 

It gives the community to see local students perform their best events and a chance to learn more about the team and its members.