The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

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Debate students to compete in Riviera Beach on Saturday

Five students from the debate class will be competing in the southeast region Florida Civics and Debate Initiative debate competition this Saturday. Sophomores Caelen Garcia, Jessica Andrade Conte, Ehab El-Ahmad and William Salyers will compete in pairs, and senior Anjani Sharma will compete on her own.

The students will be traveling, along with debate teacher Mark Schledorn, to Riviera Beach to engage in a public forum debate competition. Public forum debates center around discussing current events that affect the public, with this particular debate’s topic being whether or not the United States should ban single-use plastics.

The students have been preparing for this debate by collaborating with their non-competing classmates on research for their arguments.

“The research has been going all right,” freshman Maggie Qin, who is not competing, said. “Each group was assigned a side and the contentions the participants had, and we research accordingly.”

Garcia, who is competing in the debate, said that the collaborative research has been beneficial for him and the other competitors.

“With the other debaters, we discussed together what contentions we could do to argue, and Mr. Schledorn instructed the other non-competing students to get sources, which has helped build the case,” Garcia said. “However, most of the research came from us, the four debaters.”

In addition to helping the competitors research their topic, the non-competing debate students have been listening to and giving feedback on their speeches. This gives the non-competing debate students a thorough perspective of what debate is like.

“They’ve really improved a lot, way better than the last time we competed,” Qin said. “For the last debate, I actually practiced with them, and I could definitely see their improvements already in their constructive speech from last time to this time. They have better use of vocabularies, and for their rebuttal speeches, they’re much better at organizing and using most of their time. I think they will win if [Florida Civics and Debate Initiative] doesn’t mix varsity and novice. It was really bad and painful last time when they combined the divisions.”

Schledorn said that the non-competing students’ opportunity to be directly involved in the research and practicing process will allow them to gain more experience with debate competitions.

“I think the non-competing students are getting a better up-close look at what it’s going to mean for them to debate,” he said. “I’m hoping it’ll encourage some of them [to compete]. There are several of them who have the skill set, they just don’t want to give up their Saturdays, and I get that. They didn’t know what they were signing up for.”

For this debate, teams will argue on either the affirmative side or negative side of a topic. The side that each team argues on is decided by coin toss, which affects how the debate students have to prepare for the competition.

“You don’t know [which side you’re arguing] until you go into the debate and they flip a coin, so you’re preparing for both sides of the case,” Schledorn said.

There have been other difficulties in the process of preparing for the debate as well, particularly with students finishing their cases.

“This week, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed about having to finish the case,” Garcia said. “Before this, in early February, we spent each day working on the case, but the week we spent judging debate sparring, we had to interrupt our case preparations, delaying us,” Garcia said. “I’m feeling relatively unprepared. We haven’t spent much time actually arguing the case, with both teams just finishing their case this week.”

Despite this, Schledorn said he feels confident that his students are going to do well in the competition.

“I think the [students] who are going are feeling super-confident,” Schledorn said. “Based on what I saw today, I’m thinking that they’re going to do well. I judged my first debate rounds the last time we went, and they look like they can hold their own against anybody who I saw that day. I’m hoping they feel more confident than they’ve ever felt before because we’re actually having time to run their debates before the competition. We didn’t do that before. I mean, we’re learning. We’re taking baby steps.”


By Juliana Johnson

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