Isabel Adler ’17 and Ciel Torres ’17 competed in the Claremont Bargain Belt Invitational Debate Tournament on Nov. 24. Torres placed second for the Second Speaker Award, and the duo made it to semifinals in the public forum.
In the public forum debate, teams are given a topic to solve by either advocating for or rejecting their assigned position. They debated the federal government’s role in reparations for slavery to African Americans. As a team, Adler and Torres met more than twice a week to prepare.
“The girls who are on the team are extremely dedicated and extremely motivated, and they really take initiative to do their research and take leadership to guide the newer team members,” Debate Coach Kate Webster said.
Torres and Adler prepared by conducting extensive research and editing to make sure they knew both sides of the topic so they could refute any opposing arguments.
“We’ve had lots of time and practice throughout our three years of debate and lots of opportunities to work as a team,” Adler said.
“They practice and practice and practice together, in front of each other,” Webster said about the process the team went through leading up to the tournament.
“They’ve had [math teacher Chris Luzniak] help them as well, and even though he is new to Archer, he has a lot of experience with speech and debate, so he’s been really helpful with practice and getting us organized,” Webster said.
“It’s challenging because we are a small, new team and we are going against much bigger teams who have a lot of different resources. On one hand, it’s good that we are small because the girls can have a lot of attention,” she said.
“I think there are always going to be arguments that stump you, but it’s up to you to know the topic well enough and have done sufficient research to be able to refute anything that comes against you,” Torres said.
Despite these challenges, the team succeeds in their debates. Adler and Torres say that their strong partnership helps them get through tournaments.
“Isabelle and I are a fantastic team. I think we play on each others strengths and weaknesses,” Torres said. “The things she’s better at I’m not so good at and the things I might be better at she’s not so good at so we fill in each other’s holes.”
“I feel like now we have found a groove of what works for us and what doesn’t and we have experimented with different types of debating within the round. Also, I put a huge amount of time into debate; it is like a seventh class, and I believe that what you put into it is what you get out of it,” Adler said.
“They have such great ‘sticktoitiveness’ in that they get the topic, and even though we’re a little team, they come to practice twice a week, and they’re putting the effort in, and it really pays off,” Webster said.
Both Webster and Torres believe that speech and debate is a useful tool.
“Besides the fact that it keeps me on top of current events, debate has strengthened my skills as a public speaker – it’s made me very confident,” Torres said.