Debate team seeks new members

Aalekhya Tenali, Business Manager

An informational debate meeting has been scheduled for Thursday in Room 16-107 for students interested in showcasing their public speaking skills or developing debating expertise. The meeting is open to both middle and high school students.

“The experience of speaking to complete strangers and yet managing to negate your opponent and get your point across in a competitive setting is excellent training for college and life in general,” Coach Susan Woyshner said. “Debate is not a club. It is a team.”

Debating entails six rounds of competition during which contenders debate both the affirmative and negative of a resolution that deals with a current and controversial issue. Competitions are held once every week for three weeks.

“The work I watch our debaters put into their teams is as dedicated as any team sport, except that it is a mental exercise,” Woyshner said.

Debaters are matched individually against those competing from other schools and a neutral judge determines the winner based on who presented the better argument.

Speaker points also are awarded on a scale of 1-50. These reflect the quality of the debater’s delivery and presentation and are used to break any ties. A cumulative record is kept, and at the end of the six rounds, the top three debaters from each pool advance to the quarterfinals.

“The best thing about it is the comraderie that develops with the team members,” Woyshner said, “because it is a team where you cannot assist each other during the competition but can help motivate each other and share ideas in between rounds and during the week.”

The team has a tradition of going out to dinner at Panera Bread after every round of debate. Now that venue has been changed from Viera High School to Melbourne High School, it seems that the team will have to make a new tradition.

“I am looking forward to this season with my friends,” junior Megan Andree, a returning debater, said. “I enjoy it because it’s fun to come up with arguments together and then make you opponent look stupid.”

With five returning debaters, the team looks to recruit new members to fill the seats left by those who graduated last year.

“We’re going to take it all,” Woyshner said. “I think that it is going to be a fantastic year.”