A Teacher Profile: Danielle Lopez

Lopez, a teacher and Speech and Debate coach who’s taught at DHS for eight years.

Jasmin Saenz, Web Editor

Anticipating this moment, the team boards the bus insanely early, rushing to find their team’s camping spot in the school’s cafeteria. The most serious competitors start to practice their pieces while facing the wall. That’s called wall talking. After all performances are done, everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for the rest of the awards to be handed out. Tears of joy are seen around the auditorium, many having their hopes ripped away. Finally, the main award. Who becomes the district champions? The team who has the most national qualifiers is the Delta High School Speech and Debate team!

Delta High School has become district champions for a few years, most recently on March 5th, 2022 and they’ve made a huge effort to achieve this goal. Next Saturday, the team will be facing off against Eagle Valley.

“We are trying to win District Champions again, but it is going to be difficult because Eagle Valley has a very strong team, but we will strategize and try to do it,” said Speech and Debate Coach, Danielle Lopez. 

Lopez is a teacher who has taught for 15 years, eight years at DHS and the other seven at DMS. She teaches mathematics and computer science. In order to gain both degrees, she attended Colorado Mesa University for her math degree, and Adams State for her masters in STEM education. But all this hard work raises the question, why did she become a teacher? 

“I wanted a career that was family-friendly (my kids were young). I loved being at school with them, the time off, and my husband was already a teacher, I also like teens because sometimes I’m not that mature,” said Lopez.

That isn’t the only reason Lopez decided to become a teacher. 

“My parents raised me to believe that my biggest aspiration in life was to get married and raise a family. And while that is a great life, I had the capacity to have a successful family and career. It was my math teacher that made me see my potential and he helped me apply for scholarships and college. Without that guidance, I may not have ever gone to college,” said Lopez.

After school, every Monday and Wednesday, she directs the Speech and Debate Club from 2:50-5:00p.m. Lopez is one of the coaches of the team, along with Coaches Hannah Owens and Heather Savory. She’s been coaching Speech and Debate for eight years.

“It wasn’t my idea. They asked if I would try it because the coach was retiring and also my two children were on the team.” 

There are a variety of topics in Speech and Debate. There is Congress, Value Debate, Impromptu, and more. Lopez’s favorite topics are Congress and Informative Speaking.

“I love Congress and Informative Speaking. That’s probably because if I were on the team that is what I would do. And the most success we’ve had at State are in those events,” said Lopez.

Besides having the expectation of winning District Champions again, she has other expectations.

“I have another expectation. I want kids to place at State. It is hard to do that, but our team has great momentum right now. I expect my kids to be prepared and I want them to do their best and learn a lot,” said Lopez. 

The speech team’s next two meets will be some of the toughest competition.

“Our next two meets are very hard because we have to travel so far. Our bus will leave DHS at 4 am and we will travel to Eagle Valley and then a couple of weeks later we do the same, but the destination is Battle Mountain. Denver schools show up at those meets and the competition is stiff,” said Lopez.

Speech and Debate is rough and requires a rough amount of preparation. Those who do their best receive awards for their efforts. Danielle Lopez was describing to her speech team about the Unicorn Board on Wednesday, November 2nd, during practice. A student’s name will be shown on the Unicorn Board if they get into the top 3 in 3 different events. It will also show the ones that don’t have unexcused absences. For the students who are involved in Congress, the Author/Co Author Legislation and Debate Legislation type they talk about will be filled out by their name. “I’m a low talent/high effort person so that is my favorite kind of kid to teach or coach. Kids these days ask why don’t you prefer high effort/high talent and my response is this: they are rare. Do they even exist? Like a unicorn. So they have to fill in all of the rows and all the other things. Last year I had 3 unicorns,” said Lopez.