Sophomores challenge themselves through debates


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TOUGH AS NAILS. Debates start off with four constructive speeches for their respective sides and have five minutes to prepare their rebuttals. “Debates were really crazy while they were happening, but I kind of miss them now,” said Anisa Khatana, 10.

Petty arguments have worked themselves into daily life at one point or another; however, the ability to critically think around and defend a viewpoint in a formal situation is a skill that necessitates development.

Sophomore debates have been a staple at SHS for many years. The debate involves every sophomore English class and was assigned after spring break. Groups worked studiously for weeks to research and write their constructive speeches.

This year’s resolution was regarding mandatory homework in classes and whether it should be banned. The negative side argues in defense of the status quo, while the affirmative drafts a plan to put into practice the banning of all homework.

The first level of debates were held within classes. The best people in each class were grouped together to form the “All Star Team.” From there, a bracket was made between all the advancing teams. The first two rounds took place May 8, and the semifinals and finals were held May 9.

This year, Mrs. Melissa Sullivan’s third and fourth bell Accelerated English teams competed in the finals. The final took place in the auditorium during sixth bell on May 9. The rest of the sophomore class was invited to watch the debate as it took place.

The fourth bell team consisted of sophomores Shruthi Chidambaram, Emil Barr, Shaan Hershey, Lydia Masset, and Grace Berlier and argued the affirmative. The third bell team contained sophomores Grace Deng, Sam Barans, Ariela Kurtzer, Linya Guo, and Anisa Khatana and assumed the negative argument.

Teacher as well as seniors were judges for the debate. While both sides effectively delivered their arguments, the affirmative team was chosen as the winner.

“At the beginning I had a hard time believing I would be able to succeed but the more work the team put in, the more things started to come together. I also feel as though I gained a lot of confidence in myself that I lacked before.

“Sportsmanship, teamwork, and in depth research were all skills that I also learned,” Masset said, who was a member of the winning team.

A point emphasized by a majority of participants was the significance of teamwork.

“I learned a lot about teamwork because everybody had a lot of ideas and they often conflicted, but we learned to work through it as a team to make speeches that were interconnected,” Deng said.

With exams looming and end of year excitement, sophomore debates proved difficult to conquer, but all students accomplished this feat and grew through the experience.