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 receive high marks in virtual competition

Students in the speech and debate class placed second, third, fourth and fifth in the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative virtual debate competition, which they found out Nov. 27.

In this competition, students were required to do the Pro Con Challenge. This has students give two speeches, one in support of a certain topic, and the other in opposition to it. Speeches were submitted Nov. 14. The topic presented for students to make their speeches on was, “The United States federal government should forgive all student loan debt.”

Speech and debate teacher Mark Schledorn said he has mixed feelings about how his students placed in the assessment.

“I’m happy that we had some success because it gives us a place,” Schledorn said. “I know that we are competitive. However, it’s in the novice division. There’s novice, there’s junior varsity, and there’s varsity. I told [the students] to sign up for novice because we have no idea what we’re doing. The fact that we got four out of the five places in this speaks well, but Holy Trinity placed first, so we’re not even winning in our own county.”

Sophomore Caelen Garcia, who placed second in the competition, the highest placement among the speech and debate class, said he is proud of the class and how well it did.

“I think it’s fantastic that we all did very well in the competition,” Garcia said. “Schledorn, with the help of [senior] Anjani Sharma, did a fantastic job preparing us with it being the first year speech and debate is being offered in West Shore. I was very excited to participate, with me being able to use the WCTZ teleprompter, shirt and recording studio. Additionally, I felt very passionate about what I was debating. Social issues in America interest me, as I want to go into a career in politics.”

Schledorn said the addition of the teleprompter into the recording process helped, despite its initial issues.

“I think the idea that we had at the last minute of using the TV studio and the teleprompter was successful,” Schledorn said. “There was nothing in the rules that say we can’t use a teleprompter, so that made us maintain eye contact better. The only issue was, because we hadn’t used the teleprompter before, we had some technical difficulties.”

Speech and debate is a new course to West Shore, having been made available to students this school year. Because of this, debate competitions such as the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative’s Pro Con Challenge are new to many of the school’s students. Schledorn felt said the assessment introduced the students to debate competitions and made them more familiar with the concept.

“I think the biggest opportunity [the competition presents] is that it boosts their confidence,” Schledorn said. “Not only do they know we can do it, but other kids in the class, some of whom are on equal level [in terms of skill] with the ones who competed, will know that this is doable.”

Garcia said he saw value in how the competition made him more familiar with debating and more secure in his abilities.

“I feel that this debate built a lot of confidence in my debating skills, and it will serve as a foundation for future debates,” Garcia said.

In the second semester, there are going to be two asynchronous virtual debates and two live debates that the speech and debate class hopes to participate in. Schledorn said he hopes for his students to participate but noted the challenge of the different nature of live debating.

“We still haven’t done [a competition] live, which is a whole different idea than videotaping your pro and con and sending that to the judges to look through,” he said.


By Juliana Johnson

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