It’s Up for Debate

The Speech and Debate team reflects on the District Tournament.

Daisy Smith

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The time has come: it’s Districts season. Students dressed business casual, passionately talking to walls and running down the halls in heels. This is a normal sight for the LHS speech and debate team. The team, which is currently ranked fifth in the nation, is now in their postseason. While this team may be one cohesive unit, they compete at two different district tournaments, debate Districts and Individual Events (I.E.) Districts.

It’s Debatable

On one side of the program, there are the debaters. There are three different kinds of debate. The first is Public Forum, or, “PuF.” In this style of debate, partners debate people from other schools on current issues, whether it be foreign or domestic. Next is Lincoln-Douglas, or, L.D. This form isn’t paired and they talk about ethics and morals. Finally, there’s Policy, where partners debate the current president’s policy. In each, the top three qualify to the National tournament in Dallas, Texas. Before the rounds can commence, these debaters have to prepare for what is about to come.

“When your topic comes out, you start by doing basic research,” junior Ashlie Anderson said. “You try to figure out what current laws are in place, and then, you form your cases. Then, you’ll try to think of every possible argument your opponents will make and try to find responses to all of those.”

Preparation takes place during the postseason as well as the normal season. During the regular reason they will have the chance to compete against some of the best schools in the metro area. However, Districts isn’t just another tournament.

“Districts has a lot more rounds,” Anderson said. “As a whole, it’s a smaller tournament. After you lose two rounds, you’re eliminated from the tournament. That in itself is really different. Normally, you get four guaranteed rounds, but with Districts once you’re out, you’re out. You have to compete in all eight rounds to qualify for Nationals.”

For both tournaments, one main goal is to get to Nationals. The National tournament is one that those on the speech and debate team dream about. If that dream becomes a reality, it’s a surreal moment for the students.

“Going into Districts, we didn’t know if we were going to be super successful,” Anderson said. “We knew we had prepared for it, but for the season as a whole, we hadn’t done the best. I remember standing in the hallway and our coach came out and all of the PuF teams were sitting there. Then he pointed at us and said we had won our round, which meant that we qualified. Katherine and I started crying, jumping up and down, and we hugged each other. It was just showing that all of our work we put in was totally worth it.”

The debate Districts tournament occured on March 1 and 2 with seven students qualifying in debate for Nationals. Once this tournament ended it was time to shift gears for I.E. Districts.

Frenzied Forensics

While debate Districts is geared toward the debaters, I.E. Districts involved the “forensicators” on the speech and debate team. There are eight different events at I.E. Districts: Humorous Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, Program of Oral Interpretation, International Extemporaneous and United States Extemporaneous. Students get to perform in one or two of these events, however they can only go to nationals in one event.

Both of these tournaments have the same concept for the most part. At I.E. Districts, you are guaranteed four rounds automatically. This tournament is also different from a normal tournament.

“A big difference is you have to be chosen by your coach to go, you can’t just sign up for it,” sophomore Caleb Goodwin said. “All schools from your District compete, so it’s a lot of schools, and all of your scoring from your rounds are added together, which can affect your placing. The biggest difference is if you place top three, you will go to Nationals.”

All in all, both District tournaments are important to the competitors. This experience could be a once in a lifetime opportunity because no one is guaranteed a spot.

“For Districts, I’m looking forward to getting closer to the team and getting to share my voice with more people than ever,” freshman Mallory Chapman said. “I’m excited to get the chance to get closer with the other novice and the Varsity.”

Not only is it a big deal to the students but the coaches as well.

“The coaches of this team could not be more proud of every single kiddo in the Speech and Debate program at LHS,” Competitive Theatre teacher Mick Turpin said. “We look forward to continuing the nationally ranked legacy.”