Champions of Speaking Fast

The Westminster debate team is now in their second year of debating


Kelly Gilbert

Some members of the debate team before the Ladue Novice Invitational.

This year has been very successful for the Westminster debate team. A debate team is usually set up in several pairs, and what distinguishes the varsity team from the novice team is the number of years of the pairs have debated. So, the whole debate team is made up of smaller pairs of two, although students can choose to participate alone, as well. The Westminster team has had one pair go into the quarter finals and take second place and have also had multiple pairs come quite close to going farther in the competition.

When the pair who went to the quarter finals was asked about how they prepare, Tyler Collison, freshman, replied, “You have to read the entire brief and pick out the best arguments, and then you have to write a speech for the pro and con side. You have to be prepared to answer questions about your speech and have questions for the opponent. Preparing for debate tournaments is very meticulous, and it is even harder knowing you have to prepare for both sides.”

The brief Collison is referring to is a 200 page document that high schools all over the St. Louis area use to prepare for their debates. Collison’s partner is Bryon Moser, freshman, and he also gave his opinion on his preparation: “Preparing for the debates is fun, although it takes a lot of deep thinking.”

When I asked some of the varsity debaters about how they prepare for each debate, they had similar answers.

“My partner and I prepare for a debate by going through lots of articles from both affirmative and negative arguments. From those 15 articles on each affirmative and negative, I group 2 or 3 together to make a speech with,” said John Freeman, junior.

So, why is debate important? Katherine Bauer, senior, said, “I would say debate is very important because it teaches a lot of skills, such as arguing respectfully, public speaking, and using logic that can be useful to anyone no matter what career they go into.”

Bauer is new to debate, but she has wanted to debate for a long time. When I asked her why she wanted to debate other than because it is an amazing skill and a great community opportunity, she said “I’ve been interested in trying debate for awhile and just felt like it was something that I would be good at and have a lot of fun with. I was unable to enroll in the class the first year it was available (last year) due to my schedule, so I made sure to make it a priority for this year.”

How can debate be helpful out of high school? When talking to The Westminster debate team is now in their second year Kelly Gilbert, an upper school Spanish teacher and the debate coach, she explained how debate is a skill that people can use in the workplace and anywhere they go: “Debate is about arguing politely, but still getting your point across. Debate is a great skill for anyone who is looking to become better at arguing or even at public speaking.”

If you would like to join the club, you can contact Anu Akinyede, senior, or Mrs. Gilbert!