Debate Team Stacks Wins in Virtual Tournament


BLS debate shows off their awards at Ridge High School last year. (Photo by: Selina Tang (III))

By Katie Rouse (II) and Alex Ajouri (III)

On November 21, the Boston Latin School Speech and Debate Team continued their season of success in the Lexington Fall Debate Tournament.

Lasting all day and hosted on a virtual platform, the tournament comprised five rounds for both the varsity and junior varsity divisions. Four BLS teams competed in the varsity tournament and one competed in JV. Every team placed well and earned a spot at the upcoming state tournament.

This is not the first tournament that has taken place virtually this year. Larger competitions have lasted up to three days and consisted of over six preliminary rounds and additional elimination rounds for the finalists. In another tournament, BLS debater Maya Nelson (III), who was competing in Congress Debate, won first place at the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League’s Cranberry Tournament.

These competitions, however, are only a small part of what the Speech and Debate Team does year-round. Although competitions only take place every couple of weeks, the BLS Speech and Debate Team is hard at work during breaks. When not competing, debaters prepare almost every day of the week with practice rounds, lots of research and many speech read-throughs. Practices are sometimes split into groups of newer and more experienced debaters, but the entire team usually works together to improve each other’s skills.

This dedication helps members build valuable skills that they use in their daily lives. When participating in debate, one has to prepare arguments and write persuasively.

One debater, Sam Chen (IV), says, “Debate strengthened my logical thinking skills, [which] are crucial; they allow us to convince others of our point of view and make good arguments.”

The extensive research required as part of debate also improves both students’ note-taking and writing skills. Many seasoned competitors have been able to use their skills to condense long-winded arguments down to a few sentences.

The Speech and Debate scene is not all work and no play. It is also a great opportunity to make friends and meet people from many diverse backgrounds. Neil Jin (IV) was quick to comment, “There’s the debating part which is very epic, but there’s also a bunch of fun things like movie nights and game nights.”

Many members of the debate team plan to continue their debate careers in the future. Though some think of it as a hobby, a majority are looking to pursue it in college. Lemuel Yu (I) says, “Debate has given me this kind of interest in law, which I might pursue in the future, and political relations, which I am also looking into.”

Whether or not students decide to carry on their interest in debate, it is an experience that will benefit them in numerous ways in years to come. Although it may be time-consuming, it allows those who participate in it to develop many valuable skills in life and have the chance to discover new things that they might not have otherwise.