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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

Freshman debater competes at Incubate Debate tournament

Freshman Maggie Qin participated in the Incubate Debate tournament in Jacksonville last week.

Incubate Debate is a high school debate league created by founder James T. Fishback as a “no-cost alternative to the ideological echo chamber that ‘traditional’ high school debate has become,” as stated on the league’s website.

“[Incubate] also seems to be aligned with classical education schools because when I look at the list of who attends their debates, there are a lot of classical education school students at the debate,” debate teacher Mark Schledorn said.

Qin had the opportunity to participate in the competition last year after Fishback emailed speech and debate club sponsor Jodie Capron inviting students to compete. Qin had also participated in an Incubate tournament the previous year.

“My first year was kind of rough,” Qin said. “It was not only my first year with Incubate but my first year doing competitive debate. I think my debate experience from last year definitely helped me with the amount of practices.”

Incubate differs from other high school debate leagues in its formats and how the sides students argue for are chosen.

“For your regular [National Speech and Debate Association] or [Florida Civics and Debate Initiative], the side that you debate is generally determined by a coin flip, while Incubate has historically been allowing students to choose their own side in each topic,” Qin said.

This year’s tournament differed from previous years, however. Incubate creates five topics that students debate, such as “If China attacks Taiwan tomorrow, should the US defend Taiwan militarily?” This year, instead of letting students choose which side to argue for all the prompts, Incubate made three of the five prompts assign-side, in which students are randomly assigned whether to argue for or against the prompt.

Qin said that the assign-side method makes preparing for the debates easier than the coin flip method does.

“I was able to focus more on the side [I was assigned] and kind of let my mind loose for the sides that I am not debating on,” Qin said.

Qin said she spent a long time preparing for her debates before the day of the competition and that her experiences in debate class aided her in her preparation.

“I started my research around late February when the topics were out,” Qin said. “I spent my whole spring break writing and memorizing my speeches. I researched each topic for the championship round. The work I’ve done in the debate class really benefited me with this tournament because I got better at my impromptu speeches with the [spontaneous argumentation] we’ve done in the class.”

Qin wasn’t able to prepare for the specific kinds of debate she would engage in at the Incubate event in her debate class.

“I really hadn’t [prepared Maggie for the debate],” Schledorn said. “Being involved in debate in general is transferable skills, but the kinds of debate that she does in Incubate are not public forum and they’re not congressional. Those are National Speech and Debate Association constructs.”

Regardless, Qin said she arrived at the debate well-prepared.

“Going into the debate, I would say that I was ready to the best of my abilities,” she said. “I did my research and wrote and memorized my speeches, [so I was] all ready to go. But I also knew that there were people who I’d be competing with who had been doing this for years, so I didn’t expect to go too far.”

Qin was eliminated before the semi-finals.

“I think I did all right,” she said. “I had several incidents and accidents right before the first day of the tournament that almost caused me to miss my first round. In general for the two days, they were not my best performances but certainly not the worst by far.”

However, Qin ended up winning a trophy for Incubator of the Year for the Atlantic Region.

“My experience at Incubate has always been great: friendly debaters, great environment and great atmosphere in general,” Qin said. “Coming out of the event, I really learned from competing against my fellow debaters and definitely got better at debating all-around.”


By Juliana Johnson

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