South Summit debate advances to State | ParkRecord.com

South Summit debate advances to State

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

South Summit High School Debate team took third-place overall in the regional debate competition held at Maeser Preparatory Academy last week. Out of the high school’s 22 team members, 17 will go on to compete at the State Tournament in March. According to South Summit Debate Coach Jessica Humble Sweeten, the program started a few years ago, but has recently grown to a competitive level.

"South Summit has always had a team, but it hasn’t been a competitive team," Humble-Sweeten said. "We’re competing as a club team and we meet after school a couple of times a week and then sometimes the students get together on the weekend to prepare for tournaments."

According to South Summit Debate Team Treasurer Alyssa Hanson, the team did well in the regional competition. Hanson won first-place in the Original Oratory category, which she said requires writing an inspirational speech, memorizing it, and reciting it to the judges. Hanson chose to write about "the fear of public speaking."

"This is my first time in Oratory," she said. "I chose the topic because there are so many people who are terrified about speaking in front of people. I thought it was kind of satirical and funny."

South Summit debate team sophomore Grace Schulz, said she will be seeking advice from Hanson before the state competition. Schulz also qualified for states in Original Oratory.

Recruited by a friend, Schulz joined the debate team her freshman year. The most challenging thing about debate is targeting the opposite team, she said, adding that it’s sometimes hard to argue.

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Humble-Sweeten said the after school club is competing against teams who have to follow an academic program and get classroom time to practice.

"These kids do all of the work voluntarily and they are all accountable to themselves and motivated to do the work in their very limited free time," she said, adding that the program continues to grow by word-of-mouth and students recruiting their classmates.

Students must maintain a 2.0 minimum GPA to participate on the debate team, said Humble-Sweeten, adding that students can’t have any unexcused absences.

"They have to be willing to put in the work and be academically eligible. Beyond that it’s interest," she said. The debate season is October through March and usually includes about eight tournaments. Humble-Sweeten said each practice serves as a preparation for the next tournament.

The tournaments include several debate categories, including public forum debate, which requires students to research issues related to policy. Students are informed of the topics months in advance and use that time to prepare.

"They have to be aware of both sides of the issues because they don’t know what topic they will have to debate," she said. "They need to come in prepared to argue each side of the topic."

Other categories include values-based debates, where students prepare arguments from a philosophical position rather than strictly on objective facts. Humble-Sweeten said Spontaneous Argumentation is fun to watch and it can be intense because the debates are so short.

"In Spontaneous Argumentation the students are given topics at random and they have a minute to prepare their position and two minutes to prepare their case," she said, adding that students also participate in current event debates and give impromptu speeches.

Students qualifying for the State Tournament

Impromptu Speaking: Emily Paul, Nick Jacobs, Ashley Bentsen, Mason Sheeran Original Oratory: Tia Hanson, Grace Schulz, Kendyl Pollard, Taylor Larson Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Grace Schulz, Kim Webb, Jennifer Bodily

Spontaneous Argumentation: Emily Paul, Jacob Baldwin, Ashley Bentsen, Rachel Iroz, Mason Sheeran Public Forum Debate: Courtney Hawkins & Bryson Burns, Sean Lambert & Nick Jacobs, Malone Sheeran & Colton Hawkins Congressional Debate: Malone Sheeran, Kim Webb