Prepare, Rebut, Debate: Debate Team

Senior+debater+Kevin+Monami+practices+his+oral+speech+in+preparation+for+the+next+debate+about+the+rise+of+China+affecting+the+U.S.+Members+of+the+debate+team+meet+every+Wednesday+to+discuss+topics+they+must+argue+in+their+upcoming+debates.+--Adam+Bensimhon

Senior debater Kevin Monami practices his oral speech in preparation for the next debate about the rise of China affecting the U.S. Members of the debate team meet every Wednesday to discuss topics they must argue in their upcoming debates. --Adam Bensimhon

Senior debater Kevin Monami practices his oral speech in preparation for the next debate about the rise of China affecting the U.S. Members of the debate team meet every Wednesday to discuss topics they must argue in their upcoming debates. --Adam Bensimhon
Senior debater Kevin Monami practices his oral speech in preparation for the next debate about the rise of China affecting the U.S. Members of the debate team meet every Wednesday to discuss topics they must argue in their upcoming debates. –Adam Bensimhon

Debate team members at RHS have the unique opportunity to argue many topics against debate teams throughout Montgomery County. While it is a serious team, members can still enjoy themselves while competing.

This season marks another electrifying year for the debate team. Their team consists of eight of the best student competitive performers RHS has to offer. The season starts at the beginning of the school year and lasts until finals in March. “Students who join the team will learn how to speak in more concise and powerful way and also will become much more informed” said senior Jacob Shpiece.

The format for the debates is a public forum, as opposed to the previous Lincoln-Douglas style debate two years ago. The debates are held at Blair HS and typically last 45 to 50 minutes. Students have the opportunity to defend, respond and rebut arguments within that period of time. Using the public forum format, members have to prepare a four minute speech beforehand for both pro and con standpoints with the help of one partner.

The team is co-sponsored by English teachers Anne Ehlers and Kristin Flather. Ehlers is brand-new to debate this year, but this will be Flather’s third year sponsoring the team. Flather was interested in taking on the club responsibilities for multiple reasons, but one thing stood out most to her. “Seeing the students both in the meetings and before the debate really excited me about [sponsoring the team],” said Flather.

Before every debate the team is able to prepare for a potential topic ranging anywhere from the costs of college to the effects of the environment on politics. They must research their topics and prepare to debate them within a structured time frame. Thus far team members have debated climate change, US foreign policy, the prioritization of taxes in the government and the effects of Super PAC’s.

With five wins or more, students have the chance to qualify for the finals. Despite the hard work and preparation that it takes to get ready for the debates, many students find the experience to be enjoyable and rewarding. Junior Amanda Gardner said, “We are young with only two returning members but we are developing as a team and are having fun in the process.”

Students meet and practice every Wednesday in Flather’s classroom where they are able to discuss, as an entire team, different topics that may be debated. Most of the meeting time is spent discussing how to effectively rebut the arguments for each side and how they can achieve this as a team. They use this time discussing issues to help them prepare their speeches as well. These meetings help the members get more comfortable about the topic and ensure that they understand the different strategies to take down their opponents.

Due to the rigorous schedules of many members on the team, debating offers relaxation to those difficult academic classes. It allows them to have an enjoyable time with their fellow teammates and friends while competing at the highest level. “It is fun and a great experience: talking, thinking on your feet and increasing your critical thinking skills, which all colleges look for,” said Flather.