Debate Team Starts Off Strong
By Emily Corona
On October 31st, seven members of the Science Academy Debate Club took on their first Tri-County Forensics League (TCFL) Novice Speech Tournament with great success. The Debate Club consists of the high school students at the Science Academy, sponsored by Mr. Brooker, who have had prior experience with debate in their English classes. Now, these students have taken the initiative, using their skills developed from intramural debate, and dove into the competitive sphere against other school teams. The students participating hailed from a myriad of schools across the district, and were assigned number scores to determine their overall placements. The tournament itself, held over Zoom, consisted of thirteen different categories, two of which the team participated in on Saturday morning.
The team did incredibly well, with three participants from the Science Academy ranking in the top five in Spontaneous Argumentation. The argumentation was impromptu, and the students had no prior knowledge of the topics given. In this form of debate, participants are given one minute to prepare after the topic is presented, and after must argue their given stance. Some of the featured topics given included TikTok and its potential threat to national security, teachers sharing political views in classrooms, and sports teams and political slogans, according to Sarah Lane. Based on their argumentation and overall performance in comparison to other students in their breakout room, participants were awarded points. Sarah, an 11th grader and Debate Club historian, proudly placed first in the Spontaneous Argumentation event, netting over 289 total points. Leila Muney, tenth grader and Debate Club vice president, placed second and earned over 282 points for her performance. Mary Sarukhanyan, a 10th grader and current president of Speech and Debate Club, placed a close fourth in the event, as well, gaining 280 points.
One of the team members also placed in the top three in the Original Oratory event. Gregory Kislik, an 11th grader, placed third for his speech about misinformation, scoring an impressive 272 points. Greg was kind enough to provide portions of his oratory, which was to be prewritten and prerecorded for judging at the tournament. Greg’s speech, “An Untrue Truth”, talks about the need to be correct and how reliable sources can be subject to bias, as well as how misinformation has even permeated the scientific community:
“Researcher bias and error is a factor which can mislead the public because of the researcher’s perceived authority over a certain subject. Errors such as publication bias, in which publishing is based on outcome, reporting bias, which is the reporting of only positive outcomes (and neglecting negative ones), as well as spin (how the data is framed) are commonplace throughout research.”
Greg’s speech is an insightful look into the realm of misinformation, and how it affects everyone down to the sources thought to be unquestionably credible. The witty humor, coupled with the informational sources, provide an interesting take on something we often pay no mind to in the scientific community. It’s easy to see why he received such a high placement.
Overall, the team performed exceptionally well for their first official Speech and Debate tournament. Taking the majority of the top five of spontaneous argumentation, and securing a spot in the top three of the original oratory, club president and representative Mary Sarukhanyan is proud of her team. Mary commented on the team’s performance and experience going into their first tournament with the TCFL, saying:
“Everyone on the team was really nervous going into it, being our first time and over Zoom too. But we made a splash with our standings and even received comments from the co-president of our circuit. The team is thrilled with what we achieved and we’re preparing to kill it at our next event.”
It’s safe to say the Science Academy community is incredibly proud of how the team did in their tournament, and excitedly awaits the next one!