Debate plans to build on past success for new school year


Harsh Singh

Last year, seniors Sara Ashbaugh and Whitney Cravens led by example for the RBHS debate team after qualifying for the national tournament. Now, being without the two talented debaters, team captains Michael Pennella and Matthew Vincent led the way in the the first RBHS debate meeting with over 30 people showing up, half of which were new. Pennella, completing his last year at RBHS, said the purpose of the meeting was a way for everyone to get to know each other.
“We did not really go in-depth into each specific type of debate or strategies for debating; rather, we wanted to show people what debate was,” Pennella said. “Our focus was on giving people a brief explanation on the types of debate and speech events available and what being on the team would require of them. We also introduced ourselves and explained our experience on the team.”
Pennella also said the team knows they will have to work hard in order to fill in the shoes of last year’s seniors. He said the previous co-captains, Ashbaugh and Cravens, said that they trust we will make the debate team better than before.
“The seniors were all so talented and always gave us someone to look up to,” Pennella said. “But we aren’t completely devastated now that they are gone because they trust us to continue on the team in their absence.”
Another thing discussed in the meeting was goals for the year. Vincent, captain alongside Pennella, said because so many people seemed to be interested in doing debate this year, he has lofty standards set for the team.
“With over 30 people showing up to our first meeting, RBHS is probably one of the strongest debate teams in the state if not the country,” Vincent said. “Some goals that we had in mind for this year was to not only win tournaments but to also get other students students at RBHS to have fun and love the sport of debate.”
While so many people coming to the first meeting is a promising sign for the year, Pennella said it could also become a future problem.
“It is crucial that we establish some sort of organizational structure within the team so that we don’t implode into chaos,” Pennella said. “Matthew and I are trying to create some internal organization so that news and information can easily be distributed throughout the team and everyone will be aware of events and meetings.
By Harsh Singh
RBHS alumnus Sara Ashbaugh, who eventually qualified for Nationals, preps for a debate last year. The debate team will have to find people to replace the talent that graduated this year.