Behind the scenes


By Julius Pak

A timer beeps three times. One of the two suit-clad students stands up.

“Opponent ready? Judge ready?” With confirmation from both, arguments begin to pour out of his mouth at speeds of more than 500 words per minute. While most people would find this form of argumentation to be as intelligible as gibberish, this is just another round for these two debates who argue in the style of Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Modeled after the senatorial debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858, a Lincoln-Douglas debate round lasts approximately 40 minutes, and follows a resolution that is released by the National Forensics League every two months with topics ranging from whether or not standardized exit exams should be required for high school graduation to debating the prohibition of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool. Despite begin a “team,” the debate rounds themselves are competed individually.

The team has achieved many successes, having “broken” into elimination rounds more than 40 times this past year alone, including into six championships, won more than ten speaker awards above 10th place, and qualified several members to the national Tournament and the prestigious Tournament of Champions. The National Tournament will be held in Kansas City, Missouri in mid-June, and the Tournament of Champions will be hosted by the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky from May 1-3.

Recently, the debate team competed in the Woodward Novice/Second Year National Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, where schools from nine states competed. In the novice division, two freshmen broke into elimination rounds. Andrew Sohn ’13 and Brendan Gallagher ’13, Gallagher finished the preliminary rounds as the first seed and ninth speaker, and reached the semifinals of the tournament. In the second year division of the tournament, sophomores Michelle Choi ’12 and Adam Bennett ’12 won sixth and eighth speaker awards, sixth and eighth places respectively. Choi lost in her quarterfinal round to the eventual champion for the tournament.

“It was a really fun and exciting round. She debated really well and I was somewhat surprised when the round went to me,” said the winner of the tournament, Kyle Allen Niesen of Brentwood.