It’s been eight years since they’ve had one, but so far L.V. Rogers’ new debate team is having a convincing season.
“We have a great group of kids who really wanted to do it and staff support from teachers who are now involved,” said Jeff Yasinchuk, one of the teacher sponsors for the Debate Club at LVR.
On the LVR junior debate team, Tia Huttemann and Eija Loponen Stephenson have had a strong year, placing first at J.L. Crowe’s Secondary’s fifth annual New Year’s Debate Tournament, competing against teams from Invermere, Rossland and Trail.
The debate duo is also set to compete at the provincials in Vancouver in March.
“It’s been really interesting, I’m really enjoying it,” said Loponen Stephenson, who had never competed in debate before this year.
“It was nerve racking at first, but then I got the feel of it and now I’m just really enjoying it.”
Tia Hutteman and her older sister Julie, who helps coach the debate team, had both been involved in debate before they started attending LVR this year.
“It’s always rough to start out your first year with a debate club in a school because it’s hard to get kids interested — debate sounds really nerdy,” said Julie, adding that it also takes a lot of confidence to be comfortable with the public speaking aspect of debate.
“We looked at formats a lot in the beginning of the year because nobody knew what debate was or how to present a speech, and there’s very particular criteria that you have to follow,” said Julie.
At their last debate tournament, the Grade 9 girls had to compete in both an impromptu and a prepared format.
For the prepared speech, the girls were given a topic a month in advance on which they researched extensively so they could cover every angle that might arise.
“For impromptu you can’t really prepare for it, just listen to the news. There’s lots of current events topics, morals, that sort of things,” said Julie.
Loponen Stephenson said while impromptu competition can be intense, it also evens the playing field.
“It takes a bit of the stress off because everyone’s starting at the exact same place… everyone arrives, gets the topic and is at the same level,” she said.
Julie said that being on the debate team gives a lot of really worthwhile skills.
“There’s critical thinking involved, a research component, cooperation and good reasoning skills,” said Yasinchuk.
Julie added that being able to argue either side whether you believe in it or not and using logic to do that instead of emotion is another skill that’s developed through debate.
Tia and Eija, as well as the other debate team members, compete again at LVR on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the last local regional tournament of the season.