Debate Team takes on busy competition season in different categories


Coventry Thompson ’25 competes at the Westside competition on Jan. 7. She particiapted in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and debated about open and closed borders. Photo by MaryAmbrose.

Debate is an extracurricular event that helps girls build confidence, communication skills, passion about current events and efficient research techniques. The team has been preparing for their weekly competitions since the beginning of January. Every Monday and Thursday, girls can be found working hard to prepare for their upcoming events. Ms. Halli Tripe is the head coach of the Debate team and helps girls by listening and critiquing their cases.

Marian students can choose to participate in three different types of Debate. The largest category is Congressional Debate, where each team writes a bill and chooses at least six bills from other teams to pursue. Then, each student on that team decides whether they want the bill to pass or not. 

Each student researches and  hen presents their argument for three minutes in front of a judge and roughly 20 other students. It is a competition against kids from other schools, but debaters from the same school can participate in the same round. The judge decides a winner based on who made the best case. 

Senior Colette Lawler competes in Congressional Debate and said her “public speaking and ability to improvise have improved a lot because she is used to presenting in front of 20 people.”

Lawler typically writes six or seven speeches on what she is debating and puts a lot of time and research into each speech. Because of the extensive research she does for Debate, she has become an efficient researcher.

Another type of Debate is Public Forum. This includes a team of two students versus another team of two. Both the teams are assigned a topic in advance, and then when they get to their competition room, they are assigned to take the negative or affirmative argument for their topic. Each team prepares for both the negative and affirmative side and must be ready to argue either way. The winning team is based on which side had a stronger argument.

The third type of Debate Marian students can partake in is Lincoln-Douglas. Lincoln-Douglas includes a one versus one Debate. Each student has time to speak either affirming or negating their topic, whichever side they are given. The affirmative side gets six minutes, and the negative team gets seven minutes to present their initial cases. 

Then, each student can question their opponent’s contentions. In the end, both students have 13 total minutes of speaking time. The judge decides which side was stronger and that student moves on to compete against another winner. 

Freshman Nyegoul Hoth enjoys Lincoln-Douglas debate over Congressional debate because she “likes how comfortable she feels when only debating one person.” Hoth said that Debate has made her a stronger student in all of her classes. For example, Debate has “allowed her to be more confident in presenting in front of others.”

Debate is an opportunity for students to get involved and become better speakers and communicators. The hard work that they put into the preparation helps them in many ways other than helping them be successful in competitions.

Tripe said, “Debate helps students learn how to research and become good writers because they have to organize their thoughts and all of their research results.” Tripe said she loves watching her students “get really excited about something new they learned.” 

Throughout their research, they learn about current events that are relevant in the world and develop passion about their topics. Debate students learn a lot through their research and become better speakers when they present their information multiple times.

Even if girls do not have experience in Debate, they are welcomed to try it at Marian. There are different levels, including Varsity for experienced girls and Novice for newer members. If you are interested in learning more about the Debate team, contact Tripe for more information. They compete next on Feb. 4 at Bellevue West. Be sure to support the Debate team.

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