Impressive show of competition and sportsmanship

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There’s no debate about it — Flathead Valley high schools are a hotbed for speech and debate talent in Montana.

Last weekend saw Glacier and Flathead high schools finish first and second, respectively, in the Class AA championship in Kalispell. The Wolfpack edged the Braves by a narrow 5 1/2 point margin for the trophy. No other team was even close, with Bozeman a distant third.

The Wolfpack tallied five wins in 14 events to claim its first title since 2014. “We knew we needed a full team effort to pull it out, and that’s what we had,” Glacier head coach Greg Adkins said of the victory.

Flathead also won five events, including Melissa Roybal’s first-place finish in Legislative Debate, capping her impressive undefeated season.

Meanwhile, in an unusual twist of events, Columbia Falls High School claimed a remarkable 14th consecutive Class A state title after Whitefish had to give up the first-place trophy due to a scoring error.

On Saturday, Whitefish was named Class A champions in Belgrade after two tiebreakers, seemingly upending Columbia Falls winning streak. However, a scoring error was later detected that showed Columbia Falls winning by a slim three-point margin.

While certainly a bittersweet moment, the exchange of trophies was an awesome display of sportsmanship by both schools. Both teams should be proud of their performance at state and the class they displayed when learning of the scoring snafu.

“The amount of pride I have for both our teams is exactly the same as before,” Columbia Falls Head Coach Tara Norick said about the Wildcats and Bulldogs. “We’re all working so hard and doing so well. It was close. So close.”

Running a community soup kitchen for three decades is no easy task, but the leaders of Community Kitchen-Feeding the Flathead have persevered to keep the program going, sometimes on not much more than a wing and prayer.

The Community Kitchen fed just 18 guests when it opened in 1989 at Alliance Church in Kalispell with the singular goal of ending hunger in Kalispell. Naomi Davidson has been there since the beginning, leading the group as director for 29 years. Feeding the Flathead emerged as an offshoot of the Community Kitchen, and the groups merged in 2003. These days a corps of volunteers led by Davidson and B. Bradford Fenchak provide meals six days a week at various locations.

Faith has been a key ingredient in this faith-based program. Davidson told the Inter Lake recently there were times when the organization’s bank account was almost empty and the group’s treasurer paid bills out of her own pocket. Somehow, they say, the Lord always provided and no one has ever left hungry. Last year the kitchen served more than 12,000 people.

With volunteers who have poured their hearts and souls into this program, Community Kitchen-Feeding the Flathead has become a valuable resource for the hungry and homeless in the Flathead. We wish the program continued success.

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