Introduction to Debate Team


As the Mustang debate team heads into the 2018-2019 season, sights are set high. Coming off a winning last season, debaters are looking forward to implementing new skills to bring home the gold this year.

This year’s topic is whether or not the United States federal government should increase legal immigration – an issue that is often in recent headlines. The team is also debating what “legal immigration” means, and what should and should not be included in the topic – major controversies include the benefits of skilled immigration (including permanent visas and temporary H1-B visas), refugees, family migration and current events like the travel ban and DACA.

“[The topic] is so important because it’s so timely,” teacher and head coach Brian Box said. “There is a rising tide of fascism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and so many of us have learned that America is a ‘nation of immigrants’, that it’s how ‘we were created.’ It’s important for high schoolers to learn about the various groups out there and actually see the arguments presented on either side.”

Due to the large topic, the team has members participating at several different levels of debate. There are newcomers in beginning novice debate and more advanced debaters in both the conversational style of open advanced debate and high speed varsity debate. As the novices begin learning how to refute and argue, the open debaters have begun their research for the season.

“I want to be able to win a lot this year, just by knowing what evidence and arguments are good,” sophomore Jacob Lippe said. “I think I can do that with the help of Mr. Box and the rest of the team.”

Senior Noah Scanlon is also looking forward to the research this season.

“I’m really excited to learn about this topic,” Scanlon said. “Immigration policy is really important in America’s current climate, and I know it will be important in the future, so I think it’s great we get to really go into detail about it this year.”

In addition, the varsity team has been working for weeks on research and files to get the team ready for their opening weekend. While success is an important goal for them, they have also been looking forward to getting to know everyone and encouraging team bonding.

“I want to work on creating a strong team dynamic this year,” senior varsity debater Ellie Anderson said. “The more everyone feels welcome and like part of the team, the more everyone will want to work even harder to make all of us better.”

“We have a larger group of people working together this year, at every level of debate,” Box said. “I think that will work to be one of our greatest strengths this year.”

Though a majority of students are just starting preparation as the school year opens, several students also attended debate camp over the summer and worked with experts across the country.

“Starting research on this topic has been awesome,” senior varsity debater Mickey McMahon said. “That’s definitely what I’m most looking forward to — doing as much research as possible to learn about the different nuances of immigration policy. I think that will make us so much better.”

The varsity team has talked about their lofty goals for the season — they’re determined to be competitive at the state and national level and to create a strong team that will last for years to come.

“I’m nervous to move into the season with so many hopes and goals, but I’m also excited to get into the season and learn about debate,” sophomore varsity debater Kelsie Fisher said. “I feel like being a part of this team is going to be a big part of getting me where I want to be.”

Overall, as the 2018-2019 kicks off for the year, the whole debate team has expressed their enthusiasm for the season to start, and their determination to make it one of the best yet.