Debate Team Starts Off the Season with Their First Tournament

Will Weck, News Reporter

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The debate team has got the ball rolling for this school year, and they have already held practices, a preliminary competition, and attended their first tournament. The debate team is a group of Belleville West students who attended weekly practices to prepare for several tournaments they hold throughout their season.

Debate has just attended their first big tournament this past weekend.

“We had a practice tournament against Belleville East here at West on October 30,” debate sponsor Dr. Hentze said. “The first formal competition that we attended was at William Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois on November 2nd.”

Debate competitions are held on Saturdays, some of which being overnight trips. Debate teams from schools in the state of Illinois all attend the tournament on the same day.

“We took one of the largest teams we have ever taken,” Hentze said. “The team did well, and everybody won at least one round in their division, which is especially impressive because William Fremd High School is the state championship school.”

There are two types of debate that students can participate in, one of which being public forum debate.

“In the debate tournament, students will debate in five rounds, usually 3 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon,” Hentze said. “In public forum debate, there are teams of two people who debate two students from other schools and they take turns presenting their cases and asking questions to prove their argument.”

The other form of debate at the tournament is known as Lincoln-Douglas debate.

“In Lincoln-Douglas debate, it is an individual versus an individual. All of the rounds are judged by college debaters and faculty members from Chicago,” Hentze said.

There are captains for both sets of debates, Lincoln-Douglas and public forum. The co-captains of the Lincoln-Douglas debate are seniors Max Juhas and Jayden Touchette.

Senior and Lincoln-Douglas debater Max Juhas places sixth out of eight for the top speakers in varsity Lincoln-Douglas.

“I am a four-year senior on Debate,” Max Juhas said. “I love the thrill of debate, how exhilarating it is. It is so, so competitive, and it drives me to succeed.”

The debate team at Belleville West only started participating in Lincoln-Douglas debate a few years ago, so many upperclassmen involved in debate had to teach themselves about the event through competing.

“I’ve been on debate since my sophomore year, and I am currently a co-captain for the Lincoln Douglas debaters. I love debate because it gives me the chance to research current events and see both perspectives on our topics,” Jayden Touchette said.

This year’s debate team is larger than past years, and many new underclassmen have joined debate as one of their extracurriculars.

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Lincoln-Douglas debaters speak of how their rounds went, and what they could do to improve their next one.

“We have a lot of novice debaters, which means it is their first year, so we want to get them used to debate and learn the skills they need to be successful in debate for the next four years,” Hentze said.

Debate is split into novice, varsity, and junior varsity, and students new to debate are placed in novice or junior varsity, depending on their grade. Both categories allow for new debtors to build up to the varsity level.

“I want our varsity debaters to have a successful season, and possibly go to the state debate tournament in March,” Hentze said.

The debate team has many more tournaments to come, some being located at area high schools, and some being in Chicago.

“This is my tenth year working with Debate, and I have high hopes for this year,” Hentze said.