Let The World Hear You

Award-winning debate program brings pride and life-skills to students.

BV West’s school halls can’t go a day without hearing something about the sports teams,the next play, the next concert, the next game, which schools are playing against which, who’s playing who, and what songs are going to be sung. The one thing that seems seldomly heard about is Debate.

““Debate isn’t what a lot of people think it is,” Debate Coach Anne Goodson said.

“When you see debate depicted in movies or TV shows it’s usually a student standing in front of a huge audience giving a speech about something personal, in reality, debate is a game, just like basketball or soccer, and there are rules and parameters, just like any other game.” Goodson said.
It seems that Debate has a lot more in common with physical sports than meets the eye.
“We debate a central topic all year—this year it was criminal justice reform—and research and argue all angles of that topic, not just our personal beliefs. Students debate on teams of two against pairs of students from other schools on weekend tournaments throughout the metro, and take turns arguing for and against the assigned topic,”Goodson said.

Debate isn’t just standing at a podium and talking about controversial issues, it’s a strategic battle of wits, almost like chess, and physical sports to some degree, and like those sports, Debate also has plenty of work that goes into it. Senior Supta Das, a member of the debate team had this to say about initially joining the team.

“Joining debate at first is intimidating.There’s a lot of debate jargon and technicalities that make the activity look super challenging,” she said, “The idea of being judged by someone and the unpredictable nature of your opponents’ arguments can also make it daunting. However, after my first practice debate round as a freshman, I got past a lot of these concerns. Once you start, it’s much easier to navigate and win debate rounds.”

Debate is a lot less complex than someone might think at a first glance. Easy to learn, but hard to
master, Das goes on to expand on some benefits people may be interested in.

“There are so many merits that debate has. Not only do I get to
research and learn about a wide variety of relevant topics, but I also learn to become a better critical thinker. This is especially relevant when analyzing the news, and social media, which is extremely important in an age with lots of misinformation being circulated. The friendships and mentorship you receive in debate is extremely valuable. I quickly learned to trust my teammates and to seek resources from my coaches and judges as well. There’s so much opportunity for growth and improvement in debate, and there are even more people who will help you succeed.” said Das. Another student that was interviewed; Sophomore Nargis Suleman, supported that idea.

“Doing debate allowed me to be more advanced not only in my critical thinking , but also in public speaking,” Suleman said. “Once I started to see how much I was able to improve, I knew that this was an activity I would want to spend more of my time in. I have also been able to meet kids from other schools and states just because of debate and also have been able to become a lot closer to people I go to school with, which was something really awesome.”

Establishing connections is extremely beneficial during and after high school, and if the extracurric ular interests you, Debate seems like a good place to do just that, along with helping develop writing, speaking, and critical thinking. Skills that Debate Coach Ms.Goodson believes you will carry throughout your life.

“Debate will change your life forever. Not only will you make some incredible friends, get to compete all across the state (and even the nation), and learn a ton about the world around you, but you develop invaluable skills you will carry with you the rest of your life. Debate makes you a better writer, thinker, researcher, and speaker, and you see the benefits of participating in this activity in every other class you take. After even just a semester of debate, speaking up in class, completing a timed write, going on a job interview,
and asking for what you want will be second nature for you. Debate gives you the confidence to advocate for yourself, and a platform to tell the stories that are important and debate lets the world hear you!” said Goodson.