By Lorrie Ham
The Mound Westonka High School Classic Debate Team will celebrate its fall season at an upcoming team event. A total of 13 MWHS students in grades 8 through 11 took part in the inaugural year of the debate team. Seven of the students will receive letters for their efforts.
Using a competitive, interscholastic debate format in which teams of two students clash over current issues, the teams argued both the affirmative and negative sides of the chosen topic at six Saturday tournaments. The team of Grace Hanson and Anders Erdahl, both sophomores, participated in a state tournament at the JV level to finish up the season.
“With each tournament, the students gained confidence and became more competitive,” said parent volunteer Andrea Gormley. “Everyone learned a lot this first season, including me.”
Gormley coached the team with the support of staff advisor Danielle Glewwe. A group of motivated students held a meeting last spring to determine interest in forming a high school debate team. As the parent of one of the students, Gormley volunteered to coach the team. Over the summer, the group worked to establish plans and policies for the creation of a new team at MWHS.
“What was most impressive about this team was their ability to keep calm and show great sportsmanship during the debate rounds which could, at times, be quite intense,” said Gormley. “These kids were both plucky and poised – a powerful combination.”
Team members have the opportunity to improve their research, essay writing, public speaking and critical thinking skills. They also sharpen their ability to see both sides of complex arguments, said Gormley. And while it might sound like homework to some, team members call it fun.
Gormley hopes to spur interest in the team throughout the rest of the school year and plans to schedule an upcoming parent information night.
“I’m hoping we can build on this year’s success by continuing to grow and strengthen the team in the years to come,” Gormley added.