Debate team displays the awards won at its October competition. The club, formed last year, has won two out of two competitions this year (Cherie Huang/Talon).
Debate team displays the awards won at its October competition. The club, formed last year, has won two out of two competitions this year (Cherie Huang/Talon).

Year-old debate club ranks first in competitions

October 27, 2016

The debate club, in its second year, took first place at the California State University, Fullerton debate invitational Sunday, Sept. 25; it then took first place in a second tournament Saturday, Oct. 15.

During these two competitions, individual team members also received awards.

In the latest tournament, sophomore Max Freeman won first place for the junior varsity division out of 100 competitors, and sophomore Harman Bans placed fifth.  Out of 80 novice competitors, freshman Logan Prince placed fifth.

Freshman Chloe Schraeder placed 11th out of the 127 novice competitors in the previous Jack Howe Memorial Tournament Sept. 25. Among junior varsity debaters, sophomore co-captains Freeman and his brother, Jake, placed first and ninth out of 56 debaters, respectively. Sophomore Gabriella Senderov placed 11th.

I think that strategy and strength correlate, meaning that they are inherently the same thing. ”

— Logan Prince

While there are different debate styles, some based on facts and statistics, others in critical thinking, Oak Park’s team competes in Lincoln-Douglas debates. This style of debate involves analyzing a philosophical or political issue from an ethical standpoint.

There are two different teams of debaters in the club: the novice and the junior varsity. The junior varsity team comprises sophomores, juniors and seniors, while the novice team comprises all grade levels.

To practice, the novice team meets Mondays and Thursdays and the junior varsity team meets Sundays.

“They work with each other, giving feedback. Parents are involved; the coach is doing a good job. I think it’s the whole team effort,” parent Lakmeen Bans said.

Audrey Israel, the club’s coach, said the club includes students of all levels.

“There’s different beliefs at schools, some schools won’t let the kids debate their first year because they think they have to learn more. I disagree, I think the other philosophy is get them out there, debating, learning the material,” Israel said.

Students are given two months to prepare for the debates, followed by two months of competitive debates and tournaments. During these two months, the debaters argue the same topic.

Students must be able to argue both sides of their topic, citing research and statistics to prove their point.

The current topic is whether or not countries should prohibit the use of nuclear power.

I’m extremely proud of the success our team has had.”

— Max Freeman

“I think that strategy and strength correlate, meaning that they are inherently the same thing. I believe that one of my strengths during the debate is cross-examination,” Prince said. “I think I’m good at making my point clear on what I’m going to argue during my rebuttal, making sure the judge understands why my opponent’s case is not as prominent as mine.”

Eleven students participated in the first invitational debate: Cherie Huang, Jane Chen, Ignacio Morales, Saaketh Pakanati, Logan Prince, Julia Rychlik, Chloe Schraeder, Ofek Schmool, Anna Sindalovsky, Ben Zhang, Kristyn Zhang and Leo Zhang.

At the second debate were Anna Sindalovsky, Cherie Huang, Jane Chen, Logan Prince, Anish Kar, Gaby Senderov, Harman Singh Bans, Jake Freeman and Max Freeman.

“I’m extremely proud of the success our team has had — winning two tournaments in a row is such an accomplishment for any team, especially one with less than two years of experience,” Max Freeman wrote in an email. “We are extremely grateful for the support from our school, district and coach and couldn’t have done this without them.”

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