Scholars Tackle Both Sides of an Argument at Debate Competition

November 6, 2013

The Zoetics

By Jordan Hines

A consistent fear in society is public speaking. However, a few brave ASK scholars took on the challenge of not only presenting in front of others, but debating both sides of a controversial topic at last month’s debate.

In late October, three students, brothers Zach and Nick Mead, and Justice Gonzales went to the speech and debate competition at East Mountain High School. In the competition there are many categories in which people can participate, including various speeches like humorous interpretations and speaking about foreign and domestic politics, and of course a few variations on debates.

All three scholars took part in the Lincoln Douglas debates, where they are given a topic to discuss a couple of weeks ahead of time to research. This debate has seven components to it, that first has the affirmative present its case. Then the negative cross examines after which they present their case and refute the affirmative’s case. The affirmative then cross examines and gives a rebuttal. Finally the both sides rebute a last time and summarize.

Gonzales, a freshman scholar who participated in the novice LD Debate, had to debate about civil disobedience and whether it is morally justified in democracy. Having known the topic about a month ahead of time, he had to prepare for both the affirmative and negative argument. In typical debate fashion, it wasn’t until moments before he was set to debate that he was told which side he would debate for. Over three rounds he was affirmative once and negative twice.

“I didn’t really do that well, but I learned a lot,” Gonzales stated. “I need to learn how to ask smarter questions.” He said being asked questions on the spot was “pretty nerve-racking” for him.

Both Zach, a sophomore, and Nick, a junior, have participated in debates before. Because of this, they weren’t able to compete in novice debates. While this would not have been too bad, a Junior Varsity level was not available at this competition, so they had to compete at a Varsity level. “I kept going against people who were much better than me,” Nick admitted. “I didn’t win a single debate.” With a month and a half until his next debate Nick thinks he will become better at cross examination.

Aside from LD debate, Nick and Zach participated in Extemporaneous Speech. In this event they had 30 minutes to prepare a seven minute speech after a topic was picked randomly during a drawing.  Nick drew a topic about Iran and geopolitical power and nuclear weapons. His second topic was about Russia and geopolitical power as more nations join the EU.

“It was terrible,” he said. The most difficult part for him was that Internet usage was prohibited.

For anyone wanting to participate in debates Nick offers this advice: “Control your adrenaline. It’s like jumping off a bridge. It’s a similar rush.”

The ASK Academy Speech and Debate Team meets every Tuesday after school in Room 203. If interested, contact Nadyne Shimada at nshimada@theaskacademy.org.

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