Speech and debate meets can often be long and uneventful occasions. However, the Columbia Falls Invitational held on November 17th proved this statement to be untrue. As it began as a normal speech and debate meet, and ended with an Airpod scandal.
Policy debater, Anton Young, the owner of the aforementioned Airpods, as well as his debate partner Elyse Pendlay, began their search for the lost Airpods after Young realized he had left his headphones in the bathroom. When the pair returned from their round, they noticed a boy and girl leaving the bathroom when asked the couple stated, “we’re from Polson, we don’t know what those look like”,This statement later proved untrue.
The adventure continued throughout the day as Bigfork students and coaches scoured Columbia Falls Middle School, trying to make Young’s phone connect to the airpods. After numerous announcements and lack of results, the team began to lose hope in the cause. In one last valiant effort, Young as well as coach Charlie Appleby traveled near the herds of school buses in an effort to connect Young’s phone to the Airpods. With each bus and failure to connect, the chances of the headphones fateful return became slimmer and slimmer.
However, two buses sat off in the distance in the far end of the parking lot. When the Airpods registered upon Young and Appleby’s approach, tensions between coaches and participants rose. Polson Coach, Bob DiGiallonardo stated the night of the incident “That if it’s one of my kids, I’m quitting on Monday.” DiGiallonardo would not allow such behavior on his team.
Unfortunately there came a time when all the teams had to return home and at this point the reality settled in that the thieves might get away with it.
As the team left the parking lot with mixed feelings about the day, their stomachs started to growl. On the way out of town, the team stopped at a Super One Supermarket. While inside, Young and Pendlay happened upon the Polson couple. Quickly they realized this could be there chance. Young checked his phone, and lo and behold the Airpods were connected. But at this point the Airpods were running at eight percent battery power. Their one way of finding the headphones was dying.
Polson’s three coaches, Appleby, Pendlay and Young stood anxiously by the door waiting for the Airpods to come through and register with an app downloaded by Young, an app that uses a hot and cold system to find the airpods. But when all the students were through and loaded on the bus and still a connection still rang from within, Young and Appleby collectively realized that the students had stashed the headphones somewhere inside the store.
Chaos began as there was only two percent of battery remained. Team members rushed inside the store to aid in the search. Josephine Howlett was one “It was hectic, but a weird sense of calm, because we were all focused on finding them.” Josephine Howlett states. “We were…ready to search and tear this place down like nobody’s business. But then suddenly, in a blink of an eye, Appleby turns. He was facing toward this doughnut rack, and he sticks his hand in a doughnut box.”
Inside the doughnut box was a pair of headphones, hope rose then sunk when they were shown to have wires.Appleby would not give up! He stuck his hand back in and pulled out two more pairs of headphones.
“And he pulls out the beloved airpods. Everybody was cheering. Appleby was running around giving everyone high fives and hugs, and he was thanking every single one of the workers in the store,” Howlett explains. In triumph. the Bigfork Speech, Debate, and Drama team left with the Airpods, two Class B team awards, and seven finalists.