An Insider’s Look at Debate

Written by: Delainey Wilson, Reporter

During this fall semester, debate students have been working to improve their discussion and socialization skills by competing in tournaments and practicing in class.

“I think it teaches good communication skills. It teaches you to critically think and creatively think,” said debate teacher Rebecca Knowles.

Debate is often seen as difficult and a lot of dedication by students not in debate. The students in debate do agree with these assumptions, but not to the extent that some would believe.

“The hardest thing about debate is trying to prepare for what you’re actually going to go up against… you can’t prepare for everything, but you can only assume to prepare for everything,” said sophomore Lane Barrette.

Sometimes students have difficulty with other schools having different 1AC formats. A 1AC is a plan to fix whatever problem is being discussed in the debate.

“It can get really hard when… some schools do debate really weird and they do a lot of things differently than we do. We’re kind of a unique school in the way that we run things, so it can just be challenging in that aspect,” said junior Cassie Martin.

Debate might seem daunting to students who haven’t taken the class. However, once the class gets started, it proves to get easier for most students, due to Knowles’ teaching style, which some describe as independent yet guided.

“When I first started debate I didn’t know what it was. Due to Ms. Knowles’ persistence and will to teach, I’ve been exposed to many different aspects of debate. I’ve learned about 1AC’s and debate technicalities specifically,” said Barrette.

Knowles’ students put their knowledge to the test when they compete at meets across the state. A debate meet normally takes up most of the day, starting with arriving to the other school at 7:30 a.m.

“There are five rounds in a day and you just get randomly matched up with someone in your first round. After [the] third round they start power matching, so they match you up with people who have won and lost as many as you have. At some tournaments they have extra rounds if you go into finals, but mostly it’s just five rounds during the day,” said Martin.

The debate season will last until the end of the fall semester, the last tournament taking place in December. The Kansas state debate tournament does not yet have a set date.To qualify, the student must have at least ten wins, attend four tournaments, as well as have a winning record.