Debate Team Gains Recognition Being One of Few in the State

Members of the Debate Team have developed several critical skills through practice and competition

Aubrey Lawless, Staff Writer

  The Debate Team is a competitive club that includes members from all grades. Many of the members choose to participate in the team because they are taking the debate class as well and it is a good opportunity to learn and grow outside of the classroom.

  “I joined debate because I wanted to learn how to argue effectively. I also wanted to improve on my public speaking skills,” freshman Sofia Hoag said.

  During the competitions, members are paired off into groups of two and go back and forth stating their claims about a certain topic, trying to prove that their side is right.

  “I’ve attended two [competitions] so far this year. Most [of our competitions] are [against other schools in] Michigan, but some are in other states. Our main prompt this year has been high-speed rails and the great power competition,” freshman Eveyln Burtt said.

  Prompts are chosen once per year and are the main topic the team focuses on throughout the year. The rounds are set up in teams of two, where the participants take turns arguing their point of view. At the end, the judges decide who they think argued it best. Although the competitions may seem challenging at first, the team is a great way for students to learn how to comfortably communicate with others. It also gives them a sense of community.  

  “[My favorite part is watching] students gain confidence in speaking and the ability to think quickly and on their feet to refute arguments from another team. [I enjoy] seeing students debating for the first time ever and receiving speaker awards,” English teacher and Debate Team advisor Aimee Cole said.

  The competitions are mainly online this year, and most of the competitions are against teams from downstate, such as TCC and Gaylord, since many schools don’t have debate teams yet. 

  “Trying to help get more teams up north to invest in debate teams [has been the biggest challenge so far],” Cole said.

  The team has done well so far, with the members making progress and continuing to develop and improve upon their skills. There have only been two competitions this year and they have both been largely successful.

  “We didn’t make it into the semifinals or finals, but the debaters had success overall and many compliments from the judges,” Cole said.

  Students have the opportunity to be a part of the club, the debate class or both. Since major debate topics are different each year, students may find themselves being a part of the team and class every year of high school. 

  “I’m planning on doing this all four years because I enjoy it and it will look good on college applications,” Hoag said.

  The Debate Team is positively impacting students in many ways, including exposing them to new opportunities, pushing them to go out of their comfort zones and causing them to become more confident and able to speak up for themselves.

  “So many students said they took debate class or joined the team to gain confidence in their public speaking. We have a few students on the team who are notably quiet students, but they have really come a long way in developing their speaking skills and confidence,” Cole said.