Debate’s Effects on Students

Ameena Khan and Anna May

Clear Creek debaters were triumphant at their first swing tournament of the season at Foster High School. Sophomore Symphanie Williams placed second in Poetry at the Foster portion of the swing, third in Program Oral Interpretation at the Flushear portion of the swing, and fourth in Poetry in the Flushear portion of the swing. Sophomore Lily Prat placed seventh at the Foster portion of the swing, and sophomore Ameena Khan won two out of her three rounds, only missing advancing to quarterfinals by two speaker points.


The results of the first tournament are a clear representation of how Debate teaches students perseverance and gives them a sense of tenacity. Debate teaches students that working hard will inevitably let you reap the rewards of your hard work.


“Debate teaches me how to express myself while upholding my values,” Kalyn Willis said. Not only does participating in Debate help students build character and morale, but it even helps build everyday skills that are needed to perform basic functions in life and school. It also offers unique opportunities to students through tournaments such as the one that took place this past weekend.


“I think Debate helps me articulate my thoughts and have a better thought process to function in everyday life,” says Izabella Amdur. Debaters learn to think rigorously and critically by synthesizing bodies of information into a complex argument or point. However, participating in competition events is not the only way in which students gain the experiences and skills offered with Debate.


According to Symphanie Williams, interpretation events “take a previously exhausting piece of media, (a book, play, speech, article, poem, etc.), and we mold it so that it fits us and our story, taking what the author said and what we want to or are trying to convey and we create a performance to try and get our audience to see and feel the same thing we did when we found the piece.”


Debate events that incorporate a more creative element (such as Interpretation events), helps students express themselves and present themselves in the way they want to be perceived, and helps them feel more fulfilled in their overall debate experience.


Although interpretation events are perceived as acting performances, it holds a higher value than what meets the eye. For example, Lily Prat said interpretation events are “a form of Debate that uses creative liberty as opposed to arguing over a topic,” and as an opportunity to “discuss things that are truly meaningful and that pertain to me. It’s also a good way for me to share my story with others.”


When participating in debate tournaments, regardless of your event, students in Debate are building character and gaining helpful life skills. Throughout the tournament on Friday, August 26th, students rigorously worked on perfecting their performances or cases. Each student did their absolute best to succeed despite the fact that it was incredibly late, and they were all exhausted. In addition to these harsh conditions, Debate students had to be at the school early in the morning around 6 A.M. and repeat the process of the night before; all while balancing their schoolwork. This is a clear representation of the effects that being a part of Debate has on students. Their actions demonstrated grit, perseverance, and hard work.


According to the Creek Debate coach, Brian Darby, the key to being successful in Debate is having “a balance of coaching and listening. No amount of coaching will do any good if they are not willing to put forth the effort.” With the drive to be successful, Debate students are able to take constructive criticism from their mentor, and better themselves in their event.


Debate has proven to have an exceptional effect on students, no matter what event they participate in. Students will gain a wealth of knowledge, build their character, and ultimately walk away from their high school Debate career with a multitude of rewarding experiences and life-long lessons.