Following last year’s successes and shortcomings, the debate team has reorganized their practice schedule and re-aimed their focus. With the season having only just begun, returning debaters are simultaneously working on new bills and assisting with the expanding group of freshmen and sophomores.
At a debate boot camp in early September, new members came in with little knowledge of public speaking. According to co-debate team captains, senior Mike Pauls and senior Ray Solorzano, this was to be expected and feeds into their main goal for this portion of the season: getting new members comfortable with debate.
“They really help build the team for once we leave,” Pauls said. “Really increasing their confidence about debate in general is a goal of ours… We start from the ground up.”
In order to maximize time and efficiency during practices, the schedule has changed this year from two days a week from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to one day a week from 3:30 to 6 p.m. According to the team captains, this allows for more detailed practices on a given day while avoiding the schedule strain of having practice two times a week.
The primary goal for the season is to win a varsity team award which the team was close to doing at their first meet at John Hersey High School on Saturday, September 17.
“We had 11 returning debaters speak at the varsity level and nine new debaters speak at the novice, or JV, level,” social science teacher and head coach Matt Bohnenkamp said.
“We competed with the big schools, but if we had competed at the small school level, we would have finished 2nd.”
The team ended up finishing 10th out of 28 schools, while Pauls was voted best speaker out of 700 students. Pauls, junior Diego Cruz and junior Omar Roman were also voted best presiding officers in their chambers.
Overall, Bohnenkamp is happy with how the students performed and has high expectations for the season.