Photo by Madison Miller.
Spain Park Coach Oliver Parker, Assistant Coach Nikhil Mantha, Hoover High School Coach Kristy Louden, Alliemarie Schapp, Assistant Coach Brandon Cole and Delima Bhagat. Not pictured: Will Haynes.
Spain Park High School students Will Haynes and Delima Bhagat along with Hoover High School student Alliemarie Schapp will compete in the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament in Overland Park, Kan. June 15-20.
Students are given their arguments before the tournament so that they have time to prepare.
Will and Delima will compete as a team in a public forum debate with the argument that NATO should strengthen their relationship with Ukraine to deter further Russian aggression.
Alliemarie will compete in the Lincoln-Douglas debate, which requires competitors to debate one-on-one. She will argue why the U.S. ought to prioritize the pursuit of national security objectives over the Internet privacy of citizens.
For each topic, the students must research the subject in-depth and be aware of as many facts as possible. They find credible sources, not only to prove their own argument, but to disprove the argument of the competition. Depending on the topic, making sure that all of the information is gathered can require daily research in order to have the most current information.
"Our topic is about Ukraine, where things are still happening every day," Delima said. "We have to have the latest information."
Knowing their facts is not the only way that the students strategize, however. They also have to be aware of their judges and how to argue based on the type of judge their category is assigned.
"You could have a judge with years of experience or a judge who's a parent who has never heard of the topic before," Assistant Coach Nikhil Mantha. "For a parent, you might argue with metaphors and analogies while with a more experienced judge, you might use more technical terms."
To prepare, the students worked together throughout the year and participated in several national conventions and tournaments at prominent universities. This experience prepares them for larger competitions such as the NSDA tournament.
“This is the big one," Spain Park High School Coach Oliver Parker said.
For more information on the NDSA tournament, visit speechanddebate.org/nationals.