Debate team starts strong

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Coach and English teacher Laura Hammond Laux oversees both debate and speech teams.

The debate team placed fifth at the 2011-12 state tournament, third at the 2013-14 state tournament, and are currently working hard to prepare their arguments for the 2014-15 state tournament.

The Stillwater Area High School debate team is overflowing with kids who have an immense passion for what they are involved in. The team participates in about six tournaments each year at different high schools in the Twin Cities area, all leading up to the competitive state tournament in December.

Members of the debate team learn skills that will help them not only in high school and their post-secondary education, but throughout their life.

English teacher and debate coach Laura Hammond Laux lists a portion of skills she believes are useful to a student. Hammond Laux said, “Skills include how to critically think, how to research and find credible sources…time management, working together with a team, setting personal goals for yourself and accomplishing them, speaking in front of people, and being articulate.”

“Skills include how to critically think, how to research and find credible sources…time management, working together with a team, setting personal goals for yourself and accomplishing them, speaking in front of people, and being articulate.”

— Laura Hammond Laux

The team also works together after a tournament to look at the judge’s critiques and reflect on the arguments made, and look into how they can improve those points for next time.

Preparing for a debate puts a few of those skills to the test; how to critically think and how to research and find credible sources.

Junior Katie Messelt said, “We go through the media center and collect pieces of evidence by researching specific sites that are known to be reliable and have good, clean facts that help us to support either side of our arguments.”

The debate team prepares their arguments two times a week at their practices. They occasionally have a guest speaker come in and present about a current topic they are working with, to ensure each of the students is well-educated on the topic they will be debating. Members are generally kept up to date on current events to be informed of controversial issues going on around the world.

Students that are a part of debate truly do have a strong desire to be a part of the team.

Junior Torrey Lucido said, “I really love how quickly the atmosphere changes from everyone laughing and having fun between debates to being super serious and intense during the debates themselves-the contrast is really interesting.” Messelt said, “I feel energetic…I get very pumped about the debate.”

The debate team at SAHS competes in the form of a classic debate at their tournaments.

Messelt said, “There is two teams within a debate. There is the opposing school and then our team, so there will be four people in a room, plus a judge. You spend time going up to give a speech, and then you cross-examine each other, and then you switch places…you just flip-flop back and forth until you are done with the debate.” There are many other forms of debates, but Stillwater only focuses on the classic debate.

The debate team is working hard this year to perfect their methods and place high at the state tournament.