Student Life

Where’s the TL Speech and Debate Club?

Speech and debate is the thrilling mental sport known to many students and teachers across the nation who love the nature of debate. But there is a problem: we don’t see any Speech and Debate club here at TL! This conjures confusion for many students at TL–with Mock Trial, we would also suspect to have a Speech and Debate club. So, what is meant by a Speech and Debate Club?  A combination of speaking, acting and arguing all rolled into one activity. Not only an academic activity, such a club also allows students to express their opinions and feelings on certain topics, such as politics. 


The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), recognizes Speech and Debate as a sport, meaning that there are competitions. These competitions spark rivalries between schools and create a sense of spirit for those involved. Some Speech and Debate teams even make it into major nation wide competitions. The sport is widespread across the country, having a larger competitive scene than the National Spelling Bee. 


Here at TL rumors have been echoing the hallways about a new Speech and Debate club. To get the story, I reached out to Tyler Simas, a sophomore here who wants to start the club, who explained, “I was looking around the club fair the other day, looking excitedly for a Speech and Debate club, but to no avail… I knew many people would enjoy a Speech and Debate club, so I decided to start one.”


To see how popular the idea was, we put up a poll and took the results. Out of the fifty-two students polled, forty-two of them said they wouldn’t join a Speech and Debate club and ten of them said they would. The ones who said no had reasons: five thought it wouldn’t be fun, eight of them don’t like the sport, nine of them were too busy, and twelve of them said they weren’t any good at it. 


Most participants gave reasons but some did not. Overall, around one fifth of the overall participants said they would join a Speech and Debate club, giving reasons such as it would help with their writing skills, they love to compete, they love writing argumentative essays, they like public speaking, they enjoyed it in middle school, they want another place where they can share and spread their opinions.  Overall, the students who said “yes” to joining seemed interested and excited to compete and be a part of a team of intellectual athletes. 


Asked for his reasoning in forming a club, Simas responded , “…not only does it look good on a college application, but it teaches some crucial life skills.” One of those life skills Simas emphasized was public speaking, “If you can’t speak you’ll never be heard.” One major criticism given for a Speech and Debate club is that it would be too similar to Mock Trial. Simas fired back at the idea, stating, “Well, instead of a courtroom environment it’s going to be a more personal focus, since it’s just you up there speaking and no one else.” Simas also added that when he was in middle school there was a Speech and Debate club, he thought it was ridiculous that a middle school would have one and that a high school would not. 


Competitions play a major part in Speech and Debate clubs. I asked about whether Simas thought we could win. He replied, “Our first year? Probably not. But hopefully with a little work, a little time and a lot of luck, we can win a few tournaments and hopefully join some nation competitions.” When asked if he believes the club proposition will succeed, he responded very quickly, saying, “I think it will succeed because of the students, there are many that would love to participate in this kind of thing.” Looking into the benefits of a Speech and Debate club, I found that Speech and Debate improves involvement inside the classroom during discussions and debating skills. Not only this but it also teaches students proper etiquette during a debate. Simas commented on this saying “The club will teach more than just how to win. It will teach all of us about how to properly address people in a civil way…”. The club is still under construction but Simas hopes to have it up and running very soon, he believes that his club will be approved and hopes to see a diverse cast of students enroll into the club.


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