• Krystal Thompson

Debate; It Is More Than a Team, It Is a Family

The sound of weights crashing is what startles her out of her trance. Paige Law glances over only to find Mrs. Swanner chuckling as she rearranges her own work out equipment. Law’s hands continue to tremble as she resumes her sprint on the treadmill. The tournament had ended nearly three hours ago, but her nerves were still shot.

Three days had passed through out the duration of the speech and debate team’s stay at Gregory-Portland. Her competition for Original Oratory was set for the final day, and her anxiety was through the roof. It took her team nearly a half hour to get seated while Law began her walk toward the looming stage. Taking a deep breath, she looked into the audience and there she was, Mrs. Swanner, cheering her on, Limon, their pet lemon, grasped tightly in her hands.

That was nearly a year ago, and, unfortunately, Mrs. Swanner is gone. The debate/speech class is no longer an elective since they were not able to meet the required number of students. Some of the latest struggles the students have endured are listed by the chairperson of the special events committee, junior Paige Law.

“Debate as a club is definitely different than it was as a class. We do the same tasks and work on the same things, but we have such a shortened amount of time to do it all. Now we only have two hours a week to rely on, yet when we had the class, we had five.”

Despite the change in teachers, the class cut and the ongoing pandemic, the debate/speech team is making the most out of a seemingly impossible situation. They have already doubled the size of their congress team since the start of the 2020 school year and the students are already beginning to prepare for upcoming events and competitions.

“[The competitions] used to be almost every other weekend until COVID. They were always so fun and enjoyable because you got to go out with your team; it’s like a bonding experience. Nobody is truly aggressive towards each other, sure they’ll chat with you to gather ‘information,’ but you still make a lot of friends,” commented the debate team captain, Destiny Burney.

The debate/speech class has a wide range of categories to choose from, so many that there is “an event for everybody” according to the recruitment officer, Gage Majefski. No matter which class and/or event(s) you decide on, from poetry to partnered cross examination, you are a part of the team.

“We all work together to help each other succeed, and that’s one of the best reasons to join debate. You are truly gaining a family…We all love each other to some extent,” Emily Kempfer, the assistant captain of congress, added.

Given how many seniors left last year, the class turned club is now searching for new members to enlist in the team of their choice.

“This year would be the best time to join since we will be doing more practicing than anything which is amazing if you're nervous to speak. We will get to be on top again, and I will do everything in my power to get us there,” concluded the captain of the speech team, Emily Thigpen.

If you are interested in joining either the debate or the speech team, you can speak with the advisor of the club, James Cox, found in room B-107 or message the recruitment officer, junior Gage Majefski. All of the students previously mentioned in the article are willing and ready to help out any new recruits, so do not be shy if you have any questions or are simply curious as to where you would fit in with West’s latest club.

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