Debate season in review


Sam Heie, Editor-in-Chief

The HHS debate team experienced significant growth this past season by growing from one class to two. This year has also seen the most competitors ever to compete in the Shenandoah Valley Forensics League (ShenVAFL), largely due to the expansion of the school programs such as at HHS.

Ninth grade English and Debate teacher Aaron Cosner heads the program at HHS. This is his second year coaching both branches of debate.

“I think we did well considering we had way more competitors than we’d had before. This was the first year that we had two classes instead of just one, so considering how wide our team got, I think we did pretty well,” Cosner said.

The two branches of debate that Cosner coaches are Lincoln Douglas (LD) and Public Forum (PF). LD is one competitor versus another competitor and focuses on the moral issues behind policies and controversy whereas PF is a pair of competitors versus another pair of competitors and focuses on on the practicality and economic benefits of policy. Both branches have to prepare a case for each side of the argument and present it in front of a judge on tournament days. Cosner assists in writing cases, practicing speeches and preparing for public presentation.

ShenVAFL is the district debate league that is the preliminary to the conference competition. There are four competitions before championships and if you place in the top six, you qualify for conference. All of the veteran debaters placed in at least one tournament and, more surprisingly for Cosner, so did some of the rookies.

“We had a couple of surprise rookies that placed at the ShenVAFL tournaments. The most surprising was at UVA when [sophomore] William Daniel broke through to finals in his rookie year,” Cosner said.

The UVA competition, Cavalier Clash, was an invitational that took place Feb. 24-25 on UVA campus. Nine competitors, four in PF and five in LD, debated three rounds on Feb. 24, stayed the night in Charlottesville, and then went into playoffs the morning of Feb. 25.

Despite the successes of the debate season, Cosner sees potential improvements.

“We need to have more research. We need to have more stats and data in our case because the only reason we lost, particularly in PF, was that we didn’t have enough content in our cases on impacts and warrants and so on. That’s more on the PF side. On the LD side, we’re going to practice more delivery tactics next year and focus our efforts on delivery and speaking,” Cosner said.

Another way Cosner believes that the program could improve is growth.

“I think everybody should take debate, so I’d like to see it expand,” Cosner said.

Competitors for debate will compete at the conference debate tournament on Mar. 18th, and if qualified, they will move onto regionals and then states.