Forensic Union off to a strong start

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On Sunday, Oct 10. from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., KO’s Forensic Union team participated in their first debate of the 2021-2022 school year.

This novice-level debate was hosted by St. Sebastian’s over Zoom, with 16 schools in attendance, including Nobles and Greenough, Loomis, Deerfield, Hotchkiss, Choate, Taft, BB&N, Groton, and Belmont Hill. Schools sent either four or eight students, all in pairs, and each pair participated in three parliamentary debates against a different school for each round. In general, one debate round takes around 30-45 minutes, with one team arguing in support of the resolution (side government) and one team arguing against the resolution (side opposition). 

Once given a resolution, side government and side opposition were each given a 10-minute prep period to formulate their arguments, using only their prior knowledge on the subject. Then, side government alternated with side opposition, and each side was given chances to argue in support of their stance and respond to the opposing team’s contentions. Both sides had two speakers, and each speaker was given a total of eight minutes to present their speech. 

KO sent four teams to the debate: juniors Jaeden Curcio and Frank Pu on the first team; freshman Max Huang and junior Johnny Kung on the second team; sophomores Andrew LaCroix and Bassil Chughtai on the third team; and sophomores Minnila Muthukumar and Saanve Bathula on the fourth team. 

Parliamentary debates such as this one are contingent upon the ability to think on one’s feet, and this skill is consistently practiced among members of the Forensic Union team. However, overpreparing can be just as harmful as under preparing. “I generally will only practice once or twice beforehand just because, if I practice too much, then I get nervous while I am speaking,” Andrew said.

During the debates, participants are instructed to use formal language when referencing other teams and are expected to be respectful while the opposing team is speaking. In this competition, however, a student from another school acted in an inappropriate manner during their opposing team’s turn, which therefore put the school’s team at a disadvantage. “He was just laughing the entire time and talking, and I think he was having a conversation in the background as we were giving our speeches,” Bassil said.

During each round, the teams were given a score between 70 and 100, and every KO team consistently scored in the high 80s, which are excellent scores, especially for novice debaters. Saanve and Minnila won two out of their three debates, giving them the highest overall team score from KO. 

Although the team did not qualify for any awards, Forensic Union club advisor and English teacher Michelle Caswell was very proud of the team’s overall performance. “Even though we didn’t win the debates, that doesn’t really count for anything,” she said. “They just use it for tiebreakers, and our scores were actually pretty awesome.” 

Minnila was excited about the team’s outcome as well as her own and looks forward to improving for future debates. “I still need to improve on using the 10 minute prep time a little better to better organize my speech as I go,” she said. “Other than that, it was a great experience, and I will definitely continue to participate in more debate tournaments moving forward.”

Building off of their first successful competition, the Forensic Union team hopes to make even more progress going into their next debate.