Debate team a new way to argue

Debate team a new way to argue

Lia Sokol, Guest Writer

Starting last year, students at South have had a chance to practice their argumentative abilities more than before; not by squabbling with their siblings, or getting into more quarrels with their classmates, but rather by joining the Debate Team.

Debate is a form of argumentative public speaking; high school debate teams engage in this activity competitively. Members of debate teams participate in tournaments, organized by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA); there they discuss important topics relating to current events.

South’s debate team is relatively new; it was formed just last year, by ninth-grade English teacher Joshua Quimby.  “I saw there was a need for a debate team,” said Quimby, “and request[s] from some community members and some families… convinced me [to start a team]… I’m very proud of what we have accomplished in one year.”

    The team meets for practice, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3-5 p.m., but sometimes meetings run over. At these practices, members prepare for tournaments, through a variety of drills. Amanda Wang, freshman, joined the debate team this year, and was surprised by some of the exercises she did. “Typically,” said Wang, “they’re done to help us enunciate and speak better, and to say ‘um’ less; for instance, we may have to talk with a pen in our mouth, or say many tongue-twisters in a row.”

However, although these exercises may appear peculiar, they develop skills that are beneficial in all aspects of life. Junior Josephine McCormick supports this view; she joined debate last year, mainly because both she and her partner were both “interested in getting into college. Originally, it was only because of the college application,” McCormick said, “but after the first year, we really loved it. It has definitely helped me in everything I do: in speaking, controlling the way my voice sounds, confidence, school work, and knowing how to write a really solid argument.”

Debate is not only relevant throughout high school, but students can also take this knowledge to college. For instance, Andrea Drygas, a freshman at Indiana University and a member of the college debate team, attests to the fact that it has been truly beneficial to her life. “It is one of the most meaningful and helpful things I encountered in high school: it helps with news analysis, understanding, perspective, and the skills needed to reckon with new ideas.”