Debate Club plans for virtual debates

The debate begins by everyone logging onto Zoom. Everyone will be in a classroom with a teacher with a detailed schedule stating which chamber to go to and when. Everyone gets situated as they get their thoughts composed and arguments ready. This is where the real debate begins. Going virtual has not changed that.

“It’s going to be pretty seamless,” said Debate coach Dustin Zubert.

Even though virtual debates are intended to be as similar to in-person debates as much as they can be, there are still key differences that require a different approach to be as successful as possible.

“I think at this point we’re doing less with delivery because so much is now about the argument, and you know you’re not standing up. (There is) not a lot of body movement and that sort of thing, so like the whole gestures idea probably doesn’t matter as much anymore,” Zubert said.

The players have also had to change their strategy and adjust as the season provides new challenges that even the most experienced players have not necessarily breezed through.

“There are different strategies people might use to try to win the debate, and you to figure out those strategies and how to poke holes in those strategies,” said seasoned debater Luis Barahona-Rivas.

Although virtual debates may seem a little unorthodox for the team, the team spirit and even the debate community are some of the reasons why debate is an enjoyable experience.

“We’re a family,” Barahonas said. “We play Kahoot, little games for just team bonding. We all trust each other. We’re all going to help each other if anyone needs any help. But, yeah, it’s extremely important to have team members trust each other.”

The team members are just as close with each other as they are with their coaches.

“Our coaches are really, really cool,” said Debate captain Shivalli Chingre. “Mr. Zubert and Mrs. Karabush are honestly the best people to coach this team.”

Debate allows someone to make bonds and connections with new people and become a part of a large and diverse community, but there are many personal benefits that come with debate too.

“Debate is a school activity. It’s a way to take pride in your school and your individual performance,” Zubert said. “There are skills you learn, things like research, public speaking, and organization. You learn a lot. You learn a lot about government and society and the economy. People who have been in debate I’m sure come out of high school with just a much greater sense of how society works.”

Debate initially seems to be two people just arguing back and forth, but it is so much more than that. It is about community, teamwork, intellectual discussion, and it provides so many benefits. Debate is so complex, yet it can be summed up so easily.

“It’s about passion,” Shivalli said. “It’s a display of your thoughts, emotions, sort of your opinions, but also facts backing those opinions up. It’s also meeting new people and recognizing their ideas and recognizing different perspectives. You have to analyze, understand, and question even. It’s essential to building character.”