Sep 18, 2023

Great Bend varsity debaters guide novice members to victory

Posted Sep 18, 2023 3:00 PM

From Great Bend High School debate coach Kim Heath...

For the third year in a row, the Great Bend High School debate team opened their season in Garden City at an “Angel on your Shoulder Tournament.” Five novice debate teams were coached and supported by eight varsity Angels and amassed a total record of 20 wins and five losses.

As has been true for many years, this year’s debate topic is both controversial, and timely. It is centered on the fiscal well-being of some of the most vulnerable parts of the United States population. The official resolution for the 2023-24 school year reads: “The United States federal government should substantially increase fiscal redistribution in the United States by adopting a federal jobs guarantee, expanding Social Security, and/or providing a basic income.”

“Economic Inequality is a very relevant topic for students to debate,” said Panther Debate Coach, Kim Heath. “They are enjoying looking at the topic from a variety of different perspectives. It is much more approachable for our high school students than last year’s NATO relations topic.”

Tackling such a broad topic at Garden City's “Angel on your Shoulder Tournament” gave the beginning students an opportunity to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed.

“In the past, I felt like I was throwing my novices into the deep end, pitting them against other competitors with a casual 'good luck and have fun’, shared Heath. “My goal was to teach through trial, but it often left the young debaters feeling confused and stressed.”

In each round, novice debaters worked alongside their varsity angels, who served as guides and strategic advisers. Novices gave the speeches, posed the questions, and leaned on their varsity counterparts for support. The varsity members became in-round coaches. With the varsity angel in the room as the voice of support, growth in the novice debaters was obvious – not only in confidence, but also in the quality of the argumentation they produced.

The varsity students also gained from the experience, especially the 2nd year debaters. Last years’ novices were eager to help, inspired by their angelic experiences. Varsity angels relished coaching novices, strengthening team bonds, and learning through teaching. The need for clarity and organization in their own speeches, in order to be persuasive, became very clear when the varsity became judges in the afternoon.

The Freshmen team of Madison Drewel and Dominik Zimmerman were undefeated for the day, winning all of their rounds.

The teams of Kyra Lewis and Kendra Scheideman, Mila Shives and Brinley Creamer, and Kaitlyn Froetschner and Sheridan Johnson all compiled a record of four wins and one loss.

Last but not least, Parker Coleman and Rey Portillo also finished with a winning record of three wins and two losses.

Serving as angels for the Panthers were Seniors, Chrisangel Adame and Thomas Henrikson; Junior, Ailey Williams; and Sophomores, Ellie Damm, Rhys Froetschner, Zachary Hart, Quinton Heath and Keaton Kruckenberg.

Next weekend will find the GBHS students debating in both varsity and novice divisions at McPherson.