Three years ago East took first at the state debate tournament, and the past two years East’s teams have had a clean sweep, earning them a fourth consecutive state title. This year East took first and second out of 80 teams at the 6A State Debate Tournament which was held Jan. 16 where both teams held undefeated scores at Olathe Northwest.
Seniors Will Bledsoe and Nate Paris were left at the end of the tournament facing seniors Bhavish Dinakar and Spencer Mitchell, leaving the first and second places to East. Because of state regulations, teams from the same school can’t debate against themselves. Since the last two teams were from East the tournament came to a close, granting first and second places to East.
The teams have competed in several tournaments throughout the semester to qualify for state. Qualifying for state requires each individual team to have a record of at least 50% wins and at most 50% losses. East had four qualifying teams at state which is the maximum number of teams from any individual school. The bracket begins with 80 teams, and as the field was narrowed East remained.
The State tournament works like an NCAA bracket complete with octafinals, semifinals and finals. To win each round the team has to have a strong defense for both sides of the case, according to the forensics and debate teacher, Taylor Witt. Every round the teams alternate which side they are arguing and at the end of the round the judge determines the winner based on the team’s ability to persuade.
Debate is a research-heavy class that revolves around preparing to argue at tournaments about one topic every season. This seasons topic was whether or not the government should partake in domestic surveillance. The students spend time in class doing research that will help them write cases for and against the topic. At the tournaments, the teams use their research and argue against other teams.
“I think [the students] know that the kids who are the strongest teams have specific strategies against their cases, against their arguments, against their teams,” debate and forensics teacher, Taylor Witt said. “But the big picture stuff is that a judge is just a random adult and they can decide whatever they want for the outcome of the round.”
While debate’s season comes to an end, forensics season approaches. As they prepare for their first competition coming up in a few weeks, it gives enough time for the debate students to get started in forensics.
“Most of these kids do forensics also,” Witt said. “Debate season will end with the state tournament this weekend and then in two weeks it’s forensics season.”
Forensics is competitive speech and drama. It’s very individualized and there are 15 different categories in which students enter and compete. Forensics at East has been very successful alongside debate and the upcoming season looks promising according to Mr. Witt.
The team ended their season on a rewarding note, by shutting out state debaters added a fourth state title to their collection. Forensics hopes to be just as if not more successful.