Debate Takes on State

Millard West placed fourth overall in a statewide tournament


Natalie Eljamal, Staff Writer

On Friday, March 22, and Saturday the 23, debaters across Nebraska competed at a State tournament. This was the last tournament of the season and for the Wildcats, making it a clean way to end the year.

Millard West placed fourth overall, with every round and prep work they completed throughout the season leading to this tournament. In debate there are four different styles, Policy, Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas and Congress. Each style has their own way of getting points across.

In Policy, junior Brett Ferris and senior Ben Wheeler were quarter finalists along with sophomore Amara Bryant and freshman Sania Khan. Ferris also placed 5th in Policy speaker positions. The year long topic for policy was immigration. Every team chose their own division on what they wanted to debate, as long as it falls under the immigration topic. Examples of this could include refugees, climate migration, visas and more. Each round is different, as different debaters choose something different to focus on.

“I stayed up late a lot of nights,” Ferris said. “I wouldn’t do my homework because I was so busy prepping and it did pay off. I did a lot of speed drills and I got a speaker award so I was very happy and proud of myself, just seeing that my practice payed off.”

In Public Forum, seniors Ben Blumenthal and Joel Spence were quarterfinalists and seniors Emma Ahrenholtz and Reagan Newsome were semifinalists. In Public Forum speaker positions, Blumenthal placed 5th and Newsome placed 6th. In Public Forum the topic was that the United States should promote more market housing rates, unlike Policy, Public Forum topics change monthly.

“In debate, you get to learn how to study things really quickly and efficiently,” Spence said. “With our topic changing so often we have to educate ourselves on it so we can answer any questions our opponents ask.”

In LD the topic is Resolved: The illegal use of drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice. In Congress, the Dockett varies on the tournament that they attend.

The tournament took place at Millard South, and lasted two days. For four years, seniors have spent their Saturdays competing at tournaments and created bonds with other debaters who don’t live in Omaha.

Something that the seniors can take away from their high school debate career is the ability to think fast and logically. Spending a tremendous amount of time prepping and attending tournaments can make a huge impact physically and socially.

“Debate has changed my life,” Spence said. “I learned how to articulate my thoughts and learned how to speak eloquently and honestly I built a great family. And my debate partner, Ben Blumenthal, has been my partner since I started PF and I love him like a brother.”

Debaters that received a bid to the Tournament of Champions will be competing one last time on the weekend of April 27. TOC qualifiers from Millard West include Ben Blumenthal, Joel Spence, Emma Ahrenholtz, Reagan Newsome, Alex Kuzala and Emma Dodds.