After the promotion and departure of English teacher Mike Hazelton a few years ago, North’s speech and debate team practically vanished because there was no staff member to sponsor it. This school year, the team is back with English teacher Megan McCorkle and theatre teacher Chad Little as sponsors. Their first competition is Dec. 8 at Pattonville High School.
The renewal of speech and debate is providing educational opportunities for English and theatre enthusiasts alike.
“Debate is an academic team encompassing public speaking, argumentation, and acting or interpretation,” said McCorkle.
While theatre is greatly incorporated in speech and debate, there are many differences. Students are more directly involved with the decisions related to their performance.
“Unlike theatre where directors make all the decisions, students decide how to interpret topics,” said McCorkle.
Students work, usually independently to formulate claims and defend a side of an argument.
“I get to show my opinions and prove them with facts,” said freshman Spencer Osborn.
Osborn is a member of McCorkle’s debate class and hopes to gain more skills for competition as well as spread the word about the Debate Team. Luckily, some of McCorkle’s students have expressed interest in joining.
“I took Debate last year, and we did an event called Student Congress for our final. I enjoyed it and now I’m going to do Student Congress at a competition later this school year,” said sophomore Bernadette Doray.
Speech and Debate is part of MHSAA, which means participants are able to earn scholarships if they show exemplary work, but students have found several other benefits of being on the team.
“It helps me talk to others and give them valid reasons to change their opinions,” said Osborn.
In addition to improved social skills, debate can help students in the classroom, especially with English essays.
“I can make good, structured arguments to support my thesis and beliefs,” said Doray.
The skills acquired through the program can be translated to help people with communication throughout life in general.
“The purpose of debate is to get a message across and to persuade an audience,” said McCorkle.
Self-motivation is another benefit to the team as work is individual, and students decide when to allot time to practicing. McCorkle hopes the team will grow in the coming years, as this year is one of rebuilding, learning competition strategy, and getting exposure to the event.
by Madeline Fischer, Marketing Genius