Debate Team: Inside Scoop


Jordane Branch, Staff Writer

It’s not up for debate! If you enjoy spending time with peers, researching and following real-world issues, and putting your talking skills to the test, perhaps debate is for you. 

The debate club provides a positive and competitive atmosphere for students who like to debate and share their thoughts on real-world issues. In years past, the debate team has competed against other local high schools in face-to-face battles, but the pandemic has changed this. Currently, the team competes against other schools via Zoom debates, but that format has not changed the team’s preparation as they collaborate in-person to refine their positions.

On Wednesday, December 1, the debate club met during LAP to discuss the topic of the United States federal regulation of cryptocurrency in preparation for their upcoming debate on Wednesday, December 8. Sophomore debate team member Faith commented, “We the team prepares for a debate.“We research a lot for the debates. ”We prepare for about a month, share resources, and debate in pairs.” 

During the meeting on Wednesday, the atmosphere was unique and stood out from any other non-sport clubs or activities. In this debate meeting, each participant had a task to complete that will, hopefully,  contribute to the team’s chances of a victorious debate. The club sponsor Mr. Silsbee, spent the meeting walking the students through the elements of a strong argument. Also, he gave some students the task of watching a previous debate between a group of college students about the current topic of focus. Mr. Silsbee thoroughly explained to the team the requirements and expectations they will need for the debate.

Each time the debate club meets, members on specific debate skills, and then they research and work one-on-one with their partners to build their case. Andrea Gill expressed how challenging it is to prepare for a debate. “Debate takes a lot of work and commitment,” said the junior. “Many people join and leave because they underestimate the amount of research they have to do and are underprepared.” 

One can tell by the focus at the meeting that the pressure is on, but that debate club is about what you gain from the experience. The actual head-to-head debate against other high school teams takes place in a controlled environment with a judge who determines whose argument was strongest. 

The debate begins with a coin toss to determine who will start the debate. Then the lucky team goes first and the first speaker has 4 minutes to introduce their argument, whether it is for or against the topic. The opposing team’s first speaker must introduce their thoughts within the 4-minute window. There are 2 rounds of crossfire where during the first round both second speakers have 4 minutes each to speak. In the second round, the first speakers summarize their argument. Grand crossfire allows each team 2 minutes to bring their arguments to a close with their “final focus.” There’s no doubt that your argument will be heard by participants and judges. After, the judges evaluate the argument and how each team did overall, they deliberate and choose a winner.

The debate club is always looking for new members. Mr. Silsbee says, “If you follow current events and you like to argue with people, c’mon down. We’d love to have you!” Faith reiterates, “Just try it out– the experience is like no other and the satisfaction of winning an argument brings me pure joy!”