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Early on Saturday, December 2nd, the LPHS Debate team was busy talking to walls. It was a strange sight to behold, the debaters practicing tongue-twisters and the partner competitors reading speeches to a wall, all while the sky was still dark and fellow teens still slept. The strangeness of these one-sided preparations, though, paid off well.

“Some of the freshmen congresspeople, James Malony, Graham Siefker, and Ava Sinclair, have been placing consistently in the top five and they did so here,” Mrs. Arney, debate coach, said.

Debate consists of five main speaking events: Policy and Public Forum, which are partner events; Lincoln-Douglas, which is an individual, one-on-one event; and World Schools Debate and Congress, which are group events.

Policy and Public Forum pair up two teams of two competitors, challenging them to consider the facts and evidence when determining whether or not to act on a pre-assigned topic. Lincoln-Douglas puts one competitor against another, leaving the outcome of the debate to the morals and philosophies that the competitors pose. World Schools gives students a prompt and an hour of prep time to complete a full case, before finally pairing two teams of three to five people against one another. Congress emulates an actual Congress chamber, with speakers and representatives defending their chosen side on each topic.

With Sinclair placing fifth, Malony placing second, and Siefker placing first–all in the Novice Congress chamber–the home debate tournament proved to be a success for the LPHS Congress competitors. The same cannot be said for the participants of the other four events, however.

“Some of the other teams are struggling a bit, and it’s ok. We have a lot of new people, a lot of young teams. The topics have not been exactly in our favor; they’ve been pretty one-sided on a lot of them,” Arney said.

The topics have been vastly unique, posing a plethora of potential arguments and a number of likely biases.

“Some of the topics I’ve debated are setting limitations on welfare benefits and planning a preemptive missile strike on North Korea,” Malony, sophomore and first-year debater, said of his Congress topics.

In Lincoln-Douglas, the topics have been even more emotional and hard-hitting.

“I’ve debated everything from gun control to the right to forget on the internet. It’s all over the place,” Sarah McGuire, varsity Lincoln-Douglas debater, said.

Still, despite losses, the debaters know that the true value of debate comes from more than a win-loss record.

“Debate makes you a better speaker, but it also helps you in other aspects of your life, so you can effectively talk to people and put across your thoughts without being scatterbrained and all over the place. The satisfaction of getting up and knowing that you had a really great speech, or you had a really great round, whether you win or lose is irrelevant; it’s super worthwhile,” McGuire said.

Though the home tournament was a success for some and an uphill battle for others, the benefits of debating are clear to the debaters. With tournaments still to come, their development and arguments are sure to impress.

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