Northwest Hosts Regional Debate Tournament


While most students were home in their beds, 226 debaters and their respective coaches descended upon Northwest for a regional invitational debate tournament Oct. 17.

The day began at 7:30 a.m. with the debaters and judges getting registered in the mall. Judges reported to the judges’ table where they were given a ballot including the debater’s names, the room number they were to report to and  a section for writing comments about each individual speaker. The tab room, where the scores were calculated, released a schedule for the debaters. At 8:30 a.m., judges and debaters went to their respective rooms for the first round of debates.

Senior Lily Ottinger was head of the judge’s table.

“We’re checking in parents who are judging debates, giving them the paperwork that is necessary to do so, and directing them to where they need to go,” Ottinger said.

Each debate round lasted a little over an hour. After each one, volunteers took the ballots from the judges to the tab room. The scores were then used to create the schedule for the next round, pitting the most successful team against each other. and the schedule for the next round was released.
Between rounds, judges relaxed in the hospitality lounge in the cafeteria. In the mall, papers were sprawled on tables, keyboards were buzzing and pens were flying as debaters prepared for the next round. Chips, candy and drinks were sold for $1, and the proceeds will fund debate team trips.

During round of debate, two teams of two debaters take turns arguing their positions. A topic is selected by the national organization and argued for the entire season. This year, the topic is U.S. foreign policy with China. Teams are assigned to either the affirmative or negative position in round 1 and then take the opposing position in the 2nd round. At the conclusion of each round, judges score the debaters based on their ability to make and support their points, as well as the logic and overall strength of their arguments.

Teams representing 20 schools from across the state participated. Each team participated in five rounds, and the entire tournament lasted eight hours. An awards ceremony was held afterward.

NW debate and forensics students volunteered as coordinators. Junior Julian Kuffour was the tournament director.

“I was in charge of delegating responsibilities to everyone, answering all questions from debaters and coaches, and making sure everyone was doing their job at all times,” Kuffour said.

By 4 p.m., debaters and tournament officials alike were exhausted.

“It’s the same amount of stress but less fun than debating,” Ottinger said.

The awards ceremony began at 4:15 p.m. in the auditorium. In the novice category, St. James Academy won first place, Lansing took second and SM East came in third. Olathe Northwest took first place in the open category, with St. James Academy and Tonganoxie High School taking second and third place respectively.

Although NW debaters did not compete in this tournament, students enjoyed volunteering, being a part of the debate process and raising funds for future debate trips.

“My peers and fellow debaters make it fun,” Ottinger said. “Plus the entry fees and concession stand profit gives us the means to travel to bigger, badder tournaments like the ones in Iowa.”