Progress of State/National Debate Club

Irene Kim, Writer

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State/National Debate Team, also known as SN Debate, is a debate club where members travel around the United States to attend National Circuit Tournaments. In order to compete, one must learn complex debate formats, most notably Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas, and prepare for topics that are released monthly in order to attend tournaments. 

Maria Savransky (a junior in ABF) describes Lincoln Douglas debate as “approaching resolutions through a philosophical approach. We also read a lot of critical literature that analyzes how the world works and what causes different forms of oppression.” 

Andrew Kim (9th) further emphasizes, “LD deals with values, such as justice, equality, and morality.” Although these types of debate are eye-opening and enjoyable, the workload has especially limited the number of people who decide to enter into the National Circuit. 

State/National Debate Team was first created just a few years ago, by Suzan Kim, a 2017 graduate. Although she only competed on the local level, her father became an important source of support by not only judging but also bringing food for this newly created club. The advisor was initially Ms. Ponce, with a grand total of 3-4 students. Moreover, only 2 people (including our current president, Elizabeth Lee) consistently attended actual tournaments on the national level. The subsequent president, Yejin, attempted to expand the tournament more; however, as Elizabeth states, “We still didn’t have much of a presence because of the lack of people consistently competing and prepping from topic to topic. We also didn’t have team meetings or a team advisor anymore, which made team and tournament coordination difficult.” Ultimately, many of the students would come from the local circuit (BCDL), compete once or twice, and then stop attending tournaments. The club was quickly losing hope. 

Then, two years ago, several juniors and current president, Elizabeth Lee, tried to advertise the club as much as possible, which increased awareness of the club. A year ago, they finally acquired an advisor, Ms. Pagano. Many new people began to show up to the meetings. Throughout the last two years, presence increased from 3-4 members to more than 10 members. Moreover, more people have begun to take risks and try Varsity. This past September, the team attended Yale University’s annual tournament. An astounding total of 5 members reached elimination rounds (3 members in Lincoln Douglas and 2 members in Public Forum). 

State/National Debate, and learning new formats have especially impacted students by not only allowing them to develop more technical skills such as public speaking, but also real world skills. 

Andrew Kim (9th) states that “after dozens of debate rounds and tournaments, not only did I become more confident, but I met so many awesome people who all inspired me to continue this activity” although “when I first started debate, I was scared of even saying a word in front of people.” 

Furthermore, Maria Savransky  notes, “doing Lincoln Douglas has really changed the way that I look at the world and has increased my knowledge in many political issues.” 

The impacts State/National debate has had on individuals are evidently abundant.