Debate Team Prepares for First Tournament

Kaitlin Clark, Blue M Managing Editor

Last week marks the first full week of the 2017 school year at Manhattan High, but the MHS debate team is already gearing up for their first tournament of the season.

With the Washburn Rural Invitational fast-approaching, the team is preparing for their topic, which concerns federal funding in both elementary and secondary education.

The full topic to be debated is, “The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States,” according to the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s website.

The same topic will be used at each debate this season, so a thorough understanding of all aspects of it is crucial.

“A lot of people think there are many federal mandates, when there may not be as many as we think there are, and a lot of it is state level work,” debate teacher Kristal Kleiner said.

A debate is much more than simply stating facts that support your point. It takes days of research and preparation in order to have a well-composed argument.

“The biggest strategy is doing tons and tons of research beforehand so that you have the evidence,” senior Lily Colburn said.

The team is currently in the research phase of their preparations but will switch to a more debate-oriented review before the first match to allow students to prepare, whether they are a new student, who are referred to as novices, or an experienced debate member.

“The advanced students are making cases, so we have affirmative cases and negative cases so that we are potentially ready for any arguments that we meet,”  Kleiner said.

It may take time and effort to be a part of the team, but team members seem to not mind the challenge.

“The class might be rigorous and difficult sometimes, but it’s really rewarding and fun,” sophomore Megan Keenan said. “Since I’m not a novice anymore, this year starts off more difficult since we have the experience.”

When it comes to debate, students gain additional skills through their hard work in the classroom.

“I do a lot of things around the school, but debate and forensics is definitely my main focus when it comes to day to day activities,” Colburn said. “And that’s because of the opportunities it has given me, so, it’s made me a leader.”

The first debate tournament of the year will take place at Washburn Rural High School on Sept 15 and 16.