Debate team hosts first tourney in more than 20 years


The stage is set for RBHS’s first debate tournament in years.

Ashleigh Atasoy

The stage is set for RBHS's first debate tournament in years.
The stage is set for RBHS’s first debate tournament in years. Photo by Maribeth Eiken.

Today and tomorrow, the debate team will host its first debate tournament in decades. Beginning just before the end of the school day, six competing schools will draw their topics at random in the Performing Arts Center. After fourth hour, the competition will then continue in over 20 rooms throughout the school. As a senior member and co-captain, Whitney Cravens thinks that this tournament marks a change from recent years.

“[Before this year] we didn’t really have the greatest foundation for a tournament. I don’t think our team was ever into running a tournament,” Cravens said. “This year with me and my debate partner, Sarah [Ashbaugh] and the seniors on the debate team, we’ve been a lot more interested in running our own tournament because running your own tournament kind of builds your esteem as a team.”

Though historical records are incomplete, RBHS has not hosted their own debate competition, except Missouri State High School Activities Association events, in many years. In addition to hosting its first tournament in recent history, the debate team has overcome its fair share of challenges, including several coaching changes within the last few years and member influx. This weekend, the team hopes to establish itself in the competitive debate community and build on the last few years of dedication.

“Rock Bridge isn’t a very well established debate school,” Cravens said. “We have good debaters, but our team as a whole isn’t the strongest. I just think there hasn’t really been an established program here for quite some time. The team before my class got here was dwindling and very small and consisted of two or three advanced debaters so then once my class came, it expanded rapidly; about 20 new people came on board and then from there, we’ve really grown.”

Despite the encouraging numbers and lengths at which the team has come within the last few years, other challenges remain. While most debate competitions have over twenty schools competing, this tournament will have only six. Some RBHS debaters worry that the six schools that have signed up to attend might not be prepared for the smaller setting, and could dampen the mood of the tournament.

“We were trying to get more, we were trying to get teams from Kansas City and St. Louis but they had tournaments going on in their own areas this weekend,” senior debate member Annorah Harris said. “Some schools will have almost all the entries in a given competition, so I’m worried that the schools will [not] be happy with how the tournament’s run and the schools that will be there.”

Ultimately, Cravens thinks that the tournament is a great opportunity for the team. While this will be her last year to host competitions, she hopes that that the tradition and the debate team itself will continue grow over the next few years.

“I think we’re really excited to host our own tournament because we’ve never hosted one before, and it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to host one, and I think now that we’re doing it this year it’ll happen from [year to year] to come,” Cravens said. “Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to have a much bigger tournament and even though I won’t be here, I really want the team to be able to host one.”

By Ashleigh Atasoy