Speech and Debate club reinstated



The Speech and Debate club flaunts their awards after sucessfully competing in the March Merryness Tournament, the last chance to qualify for the state tournament.

Cassidy Washburn, Staff Writer

Five members sit around a table. They laugh, poking fun at each other before junior Jocelyn Zhou, the club’s leader, straightens the papers in her hands and announces the day’s agenda: prep time.

This is the Speech and Debate club, which provides an outlet for students to voice their opinions loud and clear and to get acknowledged for those ideas.

The Speech and Debate club was revived as a competitive club this year by Zhou, who is the president, advisor and “founder” of the club. Though the club has existed for a while at the high school, this year a new group of members have joined, and the club has become more serious, competing regularly at local competitions.

The team competed in the State Debate Championship, which originally seemed daunting to the newly organized team. Four students attended: Zhou and freshman Levi Garrett Cannon, both of whom qualified for the competition, and junior Bella Cameron and sophomore Amadea Datel, who were both picked as wild cards. The attendees placed 2nd, 18th, 17th and 21st respectively out of 26 total Novice Lincoln-Douglas style debaters.

According to Cameron, the club’s vice president, the club is doing so well that four members went to the States on March 24.

“I’m really excited. I’m super impressed with how we have done so far, considering we are such a small, new, growing team. I’m just really proud of us; no matter how we do when we are actually there—I think we will do well, but even if we don’t—it is an accomplishment,” Cameron said.

There are state-wide tournaments practically every weekend run through the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League, though the high school does not necessary compete in all of them. Different high schools in the area host the tournaments and they tend to last all day, often starting at 7 a.m. and finishing at 7 p.m. However, Cannon claimed that the Speech and Debate community makes the long day a little more bearable.

“Even though it is all day, it’s really fun because the community is so welcoming; they always have activities, and if you don’t already know kids from other schools, you’ll meet them through Speech and Debate,” Cannon said.

Brookline High School students compete in Lincoln-Douglas style debate, which involves one-on-one debates on the moral validity of certain frameworks over other frameworks.

“I like debate at this high school because we do Lincoln-Douglas debate, which is a lot about philosophy. I really enjoy that because we get to learn about something new and also argue,” Cannon said.

For Cameron, the club not only teaches debating skills, but also provides a sense of community for many students.

“Personally, I think it is a good community. It is just fun to be with everybody there. It’s really interesting to learn about the different topics. The most recent one was ‘Universal Basic Income,’ which I didn’t really know anything about. Then going to tournaments and even going to practice rounds is exciting and there is a lot of adrenaline involved,” Cameron said.

For many club members, debate allows students to express their opinions in a controlled, supportive environment, while also increasing their confidence.

“I think {Speech and Debate club} is a lot of fun; it is a great way to build confidence, and it’s just so exciting to be able to share your opinions in a competitive way,” Cameron said.

Though the lack of a faculty advisor for the club has been difficult, Zhou has invested her own time and money into a private tutor for herself so she can educate other members during club meetings.

“I had to fund the club myself this year, and that is not sustainable, but we want to keep the team because this year we made States,” Zhou said. “It would really help if we got some funding and support from the school in general for a coach.”

The club is just beginning, but, according to Cannon, the students are finding their way in the debate world along with their peers, and are closer because of it.

The community here is really great. We’re a little small, but we are growing. It is just a tight knit group of kids, and we all have a great time together, lots of jokes and that type of stuff,” Cannon said. “It is also fun to learn together and to grow together as a debate team.