Debate wins sweepstakes at tournament

Sophomores Maddison Smith and Saba Ali look over cases for their debate topic. Debate has practice every Tuesday after school from 4:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. “I hope to become better at managing my time better during rounds and maybe being more exaggerated when talking and giving speeches,” Ali said.

Arisha Hirji

Sophomores Maddison Smith and Saba Ali look over cases for their debate topic. Debate has practice every Tuesday after school from 4:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. “I hope to become better at managing my time better during rounds and maybe being more exaggerated when talking and giving speeches,” Ali said.

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Debate won the sweepstakes award at its tournament at Newman Smith High School on Sept. 28. The team’s next tournament will be held at Lovejoy High School on Oct. 12.

Two team members earned one out of two of their bids, which is a special point that can be earned at a tournament to qualify for the Tournament of Champions (TOC), a debate tournament attended by the top 100 teams in the country. Hebron is the only school in the district that has had debaters qualify for TOC in the past.

“I’m really excited that we had Xain Bhagwandin and Aashir Sanjrani qualify for that,” debate teacher Leeann Solice said. “They have their first bid, but they still have to get their second bid. They’re likely to [get the second bid] because they have been doing really well.”

Preparation for a tournament requires time and management. Researching a topic for debate is a long process; debaters have to make cases, understand both sides of the argument and look at the topic from a different point of view. Junior Asna Budwhani and her partner Ben Kim spent two months preparing for their debate, and they won first place at the Newman Smith tournament. 

Freshman Ben Kim and Sophomore Asna Budwhani pose for a photo with their trophies. They won first place in Novice Public Forum. Photo by @HawkDebate

“We have to have pros and cons for our topic,” Budwhani said. “The challenge about it is that you have to know both sides really well. Having extra practice rounds and being able to talk with my captains made me feel prepared for the tournament.”

About 65 students competed at the tournament at Newman Smith this year. The debate team got first place because many individuals won in different categories and speech events. 

“We got first place as a school because we had kids win in congressional debate and Lincoln Douglas,” Solice said. “I was proud of [the win] because it’s the whole team and not just a couple of kids winning.”

Sophomore Saba Ali lost her rounds at Newman Smith, but said she is not discouraged because her opponents were seniors who have more experience.

“It is a bit challenging going [against] seniors that have more experience than I do when it comes to coming up with better articulate responses to answers,” Ali said. “But it was fun seeing what I was coming up with on the spot while sitting in the middle of a round.”

Solice has identified some strategies to use from the tournament. She sees how cooperation and practicing with others by building connections and looking at various topics can lead to a successful debate. 

“Some of the work that we put in to become one supportive team was really paying off,” Solice said. “We did some things where we had kids who competed in one event judge kids who competed in another. We have really pushed to build cross-connections among the different events and support each other.”

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