Debate Team to Compete


Christine Tamir

Speech president Michael Bolton and sponsor Lynn Beal discuss impromptu tactics.

The newest club at AHS involves some of our school’s loudest and most argumentative students.

The Forensics and Debate team members meet in M5 with sponsor Lynn Beal to discuss future competitions and strategies. Students in the Speech and Communication class and other students joined the club to perfect their speaking abilities and compete against other schools.

The Forensics and Debate team will participate in its first competition at Edison HS on Dec. 19 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Buses will be provided for team members, as well as any observers who are interested in watching. The team is considered part of the Virginia High School League (VHSL). They are able to receive the same benefits as any high school sports team.

“Forensics is the ability to talk well in front of a crowd. I chose this club as a way of channeling my ability to socialize and talk about a topic,” senior Michael Bolton, president of speech said. “I got this position by giving two speeches about who I am and my qualities. I was elected by both the class and the club.”

Members have a choice of events in either the speech or debate. The majority of the team competes in speech. Within speech, there are two categories: interpretation and impromptu. Interpretation requires analyzing different pieces of literature, while impromptu requires the speaker to produce arguments on the spot.

Beal emphasizes the importance of having many “tools in your belt” for organizing an impromptu presentation. Beal suggests to her members who are competing in the impromptu style to start with a personal story. Other tools for the presenters to use include cause and effect, as well as problem and solution.

“The Forensics and Debate team is mostly about learning. Anyone can come as long as they are interested in talking about a topic,” Bolton said. “My goal for the speech section is to master the ability to speak in an effective way that gets the point across.”

Debate is set up in three rounds consisting of four minutes. In the middle of the rounds there is a cross fire when participants debate back and forth. Before the competition, debators conduct research about their monthly topics set by the National Forensics League (NFL).

“Debators need to be able to analyze information and present both sides,” Beal said.

Sophomore Drew Hendrickson is in charge of the debate portion of the team. He takes the time to talk with debaters and helps them improve their arguments. As a student in Beal’s speech and communications class, Hendrickson is given the chance to improve his own debating skills. Hendrickson applies what he learns in class to aid members who are struggling with preparation.

“Debating requires a lot more preparing than impromptu does. It takes more time and toning,” Hendrickson said. “My goal is not to be the very best, but to get all these rookies to strive to be the best. By the end of the year, I want them to think on their own, come up with a good case, and speak with confidence.”

The upcoming competition will serve as a learning experience for the fledgling team. The event will end with a trophy ceremony in the auditorium.

“I don’t expect to get first, but I do hope to get a good feel for the competition, how the actual debating works, and enough experience to improve from there,” Hendrickson said. “One day we’ll get first.”