In a League of Their Own: The Rock Ridge Debate Team

The Debate team takes on hard-hitting values and current issues while gaining a few essential skills along the way.

Megan Langsam, Staff Writer

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By being in the competitive environment of debate, students gain expertise in areas such as quick thinking and persuasion. In addition, debate advances student’s reasoning and logic skills as they study and debate current issues and morals.

On Monday, Sept. 16, the Rock Ridge High School debate team gathered new members for their first practice. Debaters and coaches see the team as a place to better understand issues from the world. Debate is a place to turn arguing into a confidence booster, and a place where students can gain important skills they will need later in life. 

     Like other sports or teams, debate is made up of different types and levels of debaters. Two of the most popular types of debate are Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas. 

     Public Forum (PF) is a type of debate in which a team of two debaters goes against another team. PF focuses on current world issues and study arguments, looking at both the positives and negatives of each issue. “It’s more focused on what’s happening in the world right now,” sophomore Marina Ashurkoff, who is a varsity debater, said. PF’s first debate topic this year was if European Union should join the Belt and Road initiative. 

     Lincoln Douglas (LD) is the type of debate that focuses on values and morals. “Many people do not consider the moral aspect of these topics,” sophomore Neha Krishnaand captain of LD debate team, said. “Everyone has a moral compass that guides them and everyone does certain things because they have this moral compass. Lincoln Douglas focuses on what is the most correct thing to do.” One topic that the LD has already debated was should standardized testing be considered in undergraduate admissions decisions. LD debate helps grow skills of logic and public speaking, while also helping debaters to think faster on their feet. 

     “[Debate] is one of the single most useful things you can do through high school to help prepare you for real life,” history teacher and debate coach Kevin Briscoe, said. Briscoe encourages students to debate, knowing that they can gain critical reading, writing, and thinking skills, as well as learn how to reason well and persuade.

     Debate can also help students learn to speak more confidently, not just argue their point in a competition. “I think it is important for the school to know that debate and speech help you to be a better public speaker,” Ashurkoff said. 

     On Nov. 16, Rock Ridge hosted the WACFL (Washington-Arlington Catholic Forensic League) LD and Speech II tournament. This tournament welcomed about 400 students for the competition.