The pursuit of dispute

Students participate in the Forensics and Debate tournament


Photo by Riley Kramolisch

Explaining directions and the designated rooms each Forensics and Debate student will compete in, Forensis coach Jennifer Jerome wraps up her directions. Starting off the season with an in-person tournament the GOLD tournament was held on Nov. 12 at Millard West High School. “I’m excited to finally get back to in-person competition,” Jerome said. “We wanted to start with our GOLD tournament so that our novice members could get the swing of things before we jump into the busy season.”

Riley Kramolisch, Managing Editor

Formal attire, board in hand and cases ready, Forensics and Debate students hosted the GOLD tournament for new and young competitors. On Nov. 12, more experienced and older members helped run the event while the younger, novice members competed. 

This was the first time hosting an in-person competition since 2019, so beginning the season with a more relaxed atmosphere was a good way to get the novice competitors into the swing of things. Schools all across the Omaha metro area came to participate in the tournament. On the day of the tournament all of the members got out of their classes early to help set up and prepare themselves for the competition.

The novices’ spent several weeks working with the varsity members on preparing their topic of a choice from 11 events such as humorous interp, poetry, informative and entertainment for this tournament. The average event lasts about seven minutes with a 10 minute max. Senior Michael Boehm helped the novices construct and critique their speeches so that they could be prepared for their competition. When the varsity members weren’t helping the novices prepare, they were placed as judges for the competition, ran the concessions and kept the school clean and easy to navigate for the competitors.

“We had to prepare the novices on what common arguments are currently being made about the topic they were discussing,” Boehm said. “This included showing them cases that other schools have written and having them think of arguments against those cases.”

Both Forensics and Debate coaches organized and ran the tournament, Forensics coach Jennifer Jerome and Debate coach Jack Spady worked together. This was Spady’s first year as the new debate coach, so he experienced many new things just as the novices did. 

“Ms. Jerome did the heavy lifting setting the tournament up this year,” Spady said. “There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes when preparing for a tournament, like communicating with teachers about using their rooms and setting up the concession stand, and this tournament would not be happening without the help of Ms. Jerome, and I want to make sure that I can set it up myself next year.”

Having several years of experience running tournaments, Jerome was able to help Spady learn the ins and outs of how to run a competition smoothly. Finding rooms available, students to be judges and students to run concessions are just a few tasks that the coaches had to complete when setting up a tournament. 

“We have our students work concessions and help in hospitality,” Jerome said. “Mr. Spady and I set up the tournament by using an online software, then we entered our competitors and communicated with teachers about using their rooms.”

Forensics co-president, senior Ashley Sudeta helped organize and keep the tournament running efficiently. She helped the other competitors find their designated room and make their way through the school. Most of her time was spent communicating with others and making sure the hospitality room was in good condition.

“I essentially helped Ms. Jerome with anything that I could,” Sudeta said. “This included tasks ranging from running warmups to working at the concession stand. However, my favorite part was when I announced the names of the people who placed in each event at the awards ceremony.”

Throughout all the chaos and all the planning, the GOLD tournament was very successful. The novices were able to compete against other students while being able to get a feel for how competitions are run. Starting the season off with a small but formal competition kicks off a long and fierce season for the members.