Lets Go Clubbing: Debate Club

by: Katie Stankard

On February 12, I joined the debate club during one of their weekly meetings. Mrs. Payne is the Debate Club sponsor and team coach.

Debate club isn’t what you think it might be. It is part of the Virginia High School League (VHSL), which is the same league that most Tuscarora sports are a part of. When the team is not competing through VHSL, they compete with The Washington Archdiocese Catholic Forensics League (WACFL). WACFL hosts highly competitive debate teams of all sizes from the D.C. and suburban areas.

Debate operates very similarly to any other club at Tuscarora. During their meetings, the Debate Team prepares for competitions, which involves researching both sides of different issues or topics which may come up in a competition.

There are four styles of debate at the WACFL High School Level: Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, and Congress. At the moment, the Tuscarora Debate Team only competes in Public Forum and Congress. The Public Forum style of debating involves two teams of two people debating over a current event; each round lasts around 45 minutes. Student Congress is a simulation of the United States Congress, with its own House of Representatives and Senate; the goal is to pass bills and resolutions using parliamentary procedures. Student Congress’ operate in four 90 minute to 2 hour sessions, with a break in between for lunch. All these styles have one thing in common – they are all fast paced and highly competitive.

The Washington Area Catholic Forensics league hosts events all over the capitol region,  which makes them accessible to all high schools in the Washington D.C area. Many competitions begin early in the morning, and take around 6 hours to complete. Depending on the style of debate the student is competing in, competitions may end late, and debaters won’t get back home before 7 or 8 p.m.

Wondering why anyone would add yet another activity to their already swamped workload?  Debate is a competitive, enjoyable team, that is very attractive to college admissions, because of the high level thinking required for debate participants.The Debate Team is always looking for new recruits, and are in the process of writing and passing By-Laws for their chapter.