Students compete in Shenandoah Valley Forensics League championship


Jiayi Li

Freshmen Andrew Lankford (right) and Giovanni Garcia-Sanchez (left) discuss their performance during their debate rounds.

Jiayi Li, Page Editor

Thursday Oct. 28, debate students traveled to Turner Ashby High School to debate in the stir Johnson Shenandoah Valley Forensics League (ShenVaFL) Championship. Debate students worked during and after school to prepare for the tournament. They had the option to debate in Public Forum (PF), Lincoln Douglas (LD) or Forensics. When debating in PF, a debater and their partner debates a resolution based on statistics and facts. Alternatively, when debating in LD, a debater debates a resolution based on morals and ethics. If debating in Forensics, the debater has to act, speak and participate in singular and partner events. Between 45 minutes to an hour of debate meetings with a choice of joining the debate class, the students have several opportunities to experience practice rounds, mentors and teachers to proofread contentions and find blocks and information against the opposing case. In the end, everyone who signed up debated twice. Freshman Andrew “Drew” Langford participated in PF with his partner Freshman Giovanni “Gio” Garcia-Sanchez.

“[It requires] a lot of research because you have to have a lot of evidence so then you can fight for your own case and against theirs. You have a whole stockpile of evidence even if you’re not going to use it. You [have] to prepare for everything,” Lankford said. 

Lankford and Sanchez-Garcia spent hours researching and preparing for their first debate tournament. Even after extensive preparation, Lankford felt nervous and excited about debating beforehand. While he and his partner only won one round and lost the other, Lankford felt glad to have had this opportunity. 

“This is a learning experience. It will guide us to be better in the next tournament,” Lankford said. 

When given the opportunity to wear a costume during the tournament, Senior LD debater Henry Matter decided to dress up as a cow. Matter debated in the varsity league and is confident of his performance in the rounds. He didn’t know much about the resolution beforehand, but because he often listens to podcasts and stays updated on the news, he knew more than others may have. Even then, he spent time printing out evidence and writing contentions.

“I didn’t spend a whole lot of time [with] preparation, but this tournament was more or less just practice to get myself warmed up for [the] future,” Matter said.

The ShenVaFL Championship was a new experience for several debaters and an opportunity for older debaters to get back in the mindset. It taught them about their topics, as well as created and fostered relationships with friends. Whether debating in LD or PF, Lankford, Matter and other debaters all felt thankful to have this chance to improve their debating capabilities.