An Update on Debate

by Eric Protzer, Grade 11

Upon being asked what the fiercest, most antagonistic form of high school competition is, the average student will expound the tribulations of a tennis match or implore the sanctified viciousness of rugby. Swept away from its deserved spotlight, however, is the naturally and wholly conflictual sport of debate, where none may sit on the sidelines and any small blow to a man is a blow to his very purpose.

But, beware; for this shadowy, devilish entity is spreading its roots and sharpening its brambles. After an entrancing incantation of “come to room 116,” the debate team was found to have enlarged itself exponentially, with over twenty souls permanently etched into the fiendish scripture known as the debate team email list. Meetings of this society soon transpired in the darkest chambers of the English classrooms.

And then, battle! The glorious rush of the tongue over sharpened diction proved to be a well-rounded ability of Sena Lee and Alice Wang, who came in 3rd in their first tournament in the junior category. Hosted by Glenlyon-Norfolk School, these rounds of contention gave debate initiates the opportunity to test and greatly improve their public speaking abilities. New debaters came out of the tournament with much confidence and many useful lessons learned.

Having fared well at the official provincial debate tournament last spring, Chris Groot and myself qualified for the fall’s Western Debate Seminar, a debate and speech tournament held between the top competitors from each of the Western Canadian provinces. Taking place in beautiful Saskatoon, the tournament resulted in second and fifth place finishes for Chris and I respectively in the debate category. Additionally, I won the impromptu speech competition with an inspiring political monologue about how miserable everyone is, and how genetically modifying the human race to become plants would make us so much happier.

Each year, Oak Bay High hosts a Christmas-themed tournament known as the Golden Gnome. Filled with the spirit of earnest compassion, members of the SMUS debate team proceeded to rend and tear their opposition until nothing remained but half-hearted, half-witted rebuttals. New to debate this year, Bonnie Moore notably rose through the ranks and placed first in the senior speaking competition.
Most recently was the regional debate tournament, at which students from all over the island compete for a chance to move on to a provincial level of competition.

The SMUS debate team performed exceedingly well, with almost all entrees qualifying for provincials. Notable achievements include a first place team finish for Julia Milden and Chris Fenje and a first place individual award for Julia in the junior category. In spite of 20-year-olds from a local college competing against Grade 11 and 12 students, we saw good results in the senior category, too, with Leo Marchand and Ali West placing 4th as a team while Chris Groot and myself placed 3rd.

Chris and I were lucky enough to face off against their rival team from GNS in the final round and have the debate filmed for instructional purposes. After a fascinating argument about whether the government should give corporate bailouts or not, our boys were unfortunately found to have lost by one point.

Currently, the debate team is furiously preparing for this year’s provincial debate tournament and the annual Mock Trials Championship. Undoubtedly, you will hear tales sung of their valorous exploits in the very near future.

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