Debate team prepares for competition season

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The debate team will have a virtual start this year.

Like many other extracurricular activities right now, the debate team has begun their season online in a virtual setting due to COVID-19. Ms. Mary MacCudden, English teacher, stands as the teacher advisor for the four students on the team.

Jason Pan, senior, Sarah Li, junior, Dominic Aceto and Zach Tefali, sophomores, are the four students on the team. These four students compete in virtual debates on a website called Tabroom. In Tabroom, teams can choose which debate competitions they want to attend and then those individual competitions are held through Zoom.

Preparing for a debate requires plenty of outside research on the topic. Debaters want the strongest evidence from credible resources to support their argument. Arguments can be affirming or negating the topic of debate. Once they collect their evidence students work towards explaining and reasoning their findings.

Within the virtual debate there are two competitors and one judge on the Zoom call. Debates follow a distinct structure. Overall, there are eight speeches with four by the affirmative and four by the negative. “Speeches themselves are made up of four constructive, eight minute speeches and four rebuttal, five minute speeches. After each constructive speech, there will be a period of cross-examination where one team can directly ask questions to the other team,” Pan said.

At the end of the round the judge decides which argument was more persuasive and gives reasoning behind their decision. Whichever competitor was deemed more persuasive wins that round.

The debate team has their sights set high for competition season after winning the Wisconsin state tournament for the past two years. “We aspire to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, the national tournament where the top 80 teams in the country get together and debate each other. In addition to that, we’d like to win the state tournament for the third year in a row, keeping the Homestead streak alive. Debate is an activity about teamwork, something that I and everyone else on the team put great emphasis on,” Pan said.

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