The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

National debate champion Malin coaches debate team, class

Trophies in room 204
Trophies in room 204

Introduced to the debate team family first semester was Aaron Malin, a Political Science Graduate from the University of Missouri. He uses his successful history of debating to aid the debate students in developing their skills.

“I competed in debate in high school for four years,” Malin said. “I qualified to state twice, and nationals once, ranking 17th in the nation my senior year. I also coached my high school team my last two years while I was a student.”

Malin came to be assistant coach of the debate program after meeting the debate teacher Jennifer Black-Cone. After volunteering at a RBHS debate tournament first semester, Malin and Black-Cone began to talk about how Malin could contribute to the debate program at RBHS.

“[Malin] is here nearly every morning,” Black-Cone said. “He has been teaching debate in both of my classes. He registered as a substitute teacher so that he was legal to travel with us to tournaments. He has also gone through the hoops to be approved by MSHSAA as a coach.”

With the debate class, debate team and frequent tournaments, Black-Cone and Malin are highly engaged with the students. The debate team meets every Monday after school and tournaments are usually once every two weeks.

“Every meeting is a new experience to learn,” freshman and debate team member Chase Ford said. “[One December] tournament, it was bad weather and half the schools dropped out. We stayed till the roads were terrible and I see Aaron running down the hall yelling at us to leave because it was that bad.”

Ford says debate helps him with proper format of public form and speaking, as well as teaching him not to procrastinate. Malin tries to help students not only improve their debate skills, but improve skills that they can use in all classes and in their everyday lives. Prepping for debate tournaments strengthens students’ ability to study and form rational thoughts.

“Students prepare for debates in two main ways,” Malin said. “Good research is essential. All students must thoroughly research the topics they will be debating. Logical reasoning skills are critical as well, and we practice developing these skills over several months of the season through drills, activities and practice debate competitions.”

And the hard work from the students has paid off. With the guidance of Black-Cone and Malin, the debate team has brought home many trophies and awards just in the past semester, both individual and group awards. All the trophies can be viewed in the debate classroom, room 204.

“Because of Coach Malin’s experience with debate, our team has grown … even students not in the class are involved. It has become a formidable team,” Black-Cone said. “[Next semester we will] continue to grow the team, practice, practice, practice, compete and bring home trophies. We also have the notion that we’ll be going to State and National competition.”

Just this past weekend, the debate team had a tournament. Malin was in attendance to help with the students, as he usually is.

“The debate tournament this weekend was great,” senior and debate team captain Sara Ashbaugh said. “We had two people get fourth place in novice Lincoln-Douglas, one person get first in comic book interpretation, and I got first in varsity domestic extemp.”

The debate team allows for both teamwork and individual work. Students can bring home their own trophies through individual debates or the team can win awards overall. Collaboration as well as individual participation is key in both preparing for and winning debates.

“I’m doing debate again this semester,” Ford said. “I look forward to just growing more as a team and improving my skills as a speaker.”

There are tournaments the next two weekends in a row, which is unusual. Normally tournaments are only about twice a month, but this month there are three tournaments in sequence. With one successful January tournament down, the debate team hopes to continue to grow with upcoming debates, meetings and classes with the aid of teacher Black-Cone and Coach Malin. Malin will be helping students again this semester in both the debate class and team.

“I am helping with and very much looking forward to second semester,” Malin said. “I get to work with a brilliant and passionate group of students every day.”
By Sophie Whyte

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