Battling it Out

An Aptakisic student gives a speech during the middle school debate tournament while other students prepare to ask questions on May 2nd. Aptakisic went on to win the tournament for the fifth year in a row.

The debate team hosted its fifth annual tournament for the middle school debate programs at Aptakisic Junior High School and Daniel Wright Middle School on May 2. The tournament, hosted at Stevenson, capped off a year-long program with volunteers from the Stevenson debate team visiting the two feeder schools every other week to guide the middle schoolers through the debate process.

The middle school tournament was based off a style of debate called Congressional Debate, in which participants represent Congressmen in session. They discuss and vote on legislation about a variety of topics from economics to foreign policy. At the tournament, 45 debaters from sixth to eighth grade discussed the impacts of the affirmation and negation on legislation about free college and carbon taxation.

“These kids are just middle schoolers and they’re discussing taxes and how they affect the economy,” Mary Polupan ’19, 2018-2019 debate club co-captain, said. “I was really impressed by their participation and willingness to debate such complex topics.”

Many of the debate team volunteers also judged the tournament, ranking the middle school debaters. Others presided over the chambers and tabulated scores afterward. The individual scores were then totaled, with Aptakisic winning its fifth straight victory over Daniel Wright.

The middle school tournament is part of the debate team’s goal of fostering a skill of public speaking within younger students. While the middle school students didn’t fully research or prepare speeches independently, the tournament gave them a fundamental experience of what debate at Stevenson is like in a more competitive environment.

“The organizing experience can be a bit stressful because you are dealing with a ton of moving pieces,” Sydney Glickson ’19, 2018-2019 debate club co-captain said. “I’m glad everything went smoothly in the end.”

The debate team plans on hosting a debate camp over the summer for any interested incoming freshmen looking to learn the basics of debate and public speaking. By reaching out to younger audiences, the debate team hopes to introduce the activity of debate to them.

“It’s really amazing to see kids that are so much younger than you grasp the same [public speaking] skills and grow like you have as a debater in high school,” Polupan said.