First ever debate tournament held at Oak Park High School

Many debaters from different schools compete at Oak Park’s debate tournament.


Photo courtesy of Audrey Freeman

Senior Harmen Bans presents his argument during practice

fSix different high schools, comprised of around 30 students, convened to compete the first ever debate tournament hosted at Oak Park High School, Jan. 12.

Throughout the entirety of the day, teams engaged in several debate rounds in order to create a ranking of the teams.

Debate team coach Audrey Israel was very excited the Oak Park team could finally host a league tournament.

“It’s our fourth year [in the league] and we’d been going to other schools, so I just felt it was time and Mr. Buchanan [the principal] was game,” Audrey Israel said. “The league had asked me last year, but it was kind of a last minute thing. This year they asked me, maybe in August, and the timing was perfect.”

According to debate team co-captain Max Freeman, the other schools also enjoyed coming to Oak Park to compete.

“It was great showing other schools around the tri-county league our campus: people really loved seeing it,” Max Freeman said.

Setting up for the tournament with resources provided from the debate team’s sponsor, Cris Epstein, Audrey Israel along with her students organized and helped the incoming students and families.

“I selected about 14 students and they basically were hosts. My students set up every room, and we ended up using three buildings in the I Building,” Audrey Israel said. “In the first round, we had students all over [the campus], even in the rain, helping people. When people were driving up, the students had signs for where to go and where to park and where is G-9.”

After talking with several other coaches from participating teams, Audrey Israel heard a lot about Oak Park’s campus’ aesthetics.

“All these people drove from Studio City and North Hollywood to our school,” Audrey Israel said. “Some of these kids are from really low-income families, so I heard a lot about just how beautiful our school is. We forget how beautiful it is out here.”
Student debaters, such as senior Rachel Bean from Valley International Preparatory High School, who participated also enjoyed the tournament.

“The campus was nice, it was clean and the buildings were easy to navigate around,” Bean wrote to the Talon. “The tournament was definitely well organized. We had enough of a break to catch our breath between rounds but not long en…ugh where we were sitting around doing nothing.”