By Leila Rocha
Last Week, BHS had an event so special, so fun, and so intriguing that I just can’t believe people weren’t banging on the L116/117 doors to get in (seriously). It was Debate Week! Our very own debate team argued concerning topics such as (but not limited to) toxic masculinity, Ye West, and high school football.
On Friday – during the debate about whether or not Ye West should be censored on popular music streaming outlet Spotify – I attended. I was drawn to this particular debate since I knew that Ye West has been in a bonfire these past months for making anti-Semitic comments that even cost him his deal with Adidas in 2022. I just knew that this could be an interesting debate.
I was among the first people in the room that had two podiums for each team and their members looking ready for the debate. Lauren Dulatre (10) and Tristan Espana (10) were arguing against West being censored versus David Sanders (10) and Conner Bush (12) arguing for West being censored.
I found a seat in the corner with the intention of approaching the debaters after their performance to ask if I may interview them for this exact article. In all honesty, I was not expecting what happened. Within minutes the room was so full that people were having to pull up chairs and even stand in the back. What a turnout!
When the debate started, it was not some boring put-you-to-sleep kind of high school debate. No! It was lively. Great points were made from both sides. The debaters were enthusiastic, grabbing everyone’s attention. They really got the audience clapping at the end. Still, they maintained their professionalism – truly a talented group.
In the end as lunch was about to close, the audience took a vote. The results were that West should be censored on Spotify, making Sanders and Bush the debate winners.
Like I mentioned earlier, I planned to get their information for an interview with The Paw. So I waited just a moment so that I would have room to make it from the corner I was sitting in, to the front where the debaters were. Once I did, I took action and asked them for their names and grades so I could email them. Here are their responses:
What was the role you had during Debate Week, and how long have you been preparing for it?
Dulatre: My role in debate week was first speaker, and that’s basically like introducing the claims you have on your argument and you support it with evidence. I have been preparing for debate week since December, not a usual prep time for a real debate, but since it’s a school debate it was ok.
Espana: I was one of the key planners of debate week, meaning I had a hand in picking debate topics, alongside who would be debating that topic. I was also the first speaker during Wednesday’s Football Debate and Friday’s Ye Debate.
Sanders: In debate week I was the first and third speaker for the Ye debate, and my partner (Conn[e]r Bush) and I practiced the debate for about a week before the debate.
How has Debate Week been for you? What have been some positives and negatives about it that you would like to share?
Dulatre: The lead up to my debate on Friday was excruciating, I was nervous and scared because it was my first time doing ‘actual’ debate. But when I was up on the podium thingy I automatically felt confident in what I was saying, and my tone/attitude. The biggest positives was that some of my friends were able to watch, and that really boosted my confidence including my partner Tristan Espana, he was my first friend when [I] transferred and he helped me perfect my speech and made sure I was doing everything correctly, but the biggest negative was that it was my first time debating and that I was going against people who went to tournaments and were obviously experienced.
Espana: Debate week was an amazing experience for me. I personally enjoy debating and performing in front of others, which were both key aspects of debate week. The only negative thing I could say was the amount of back and forth in the decision making process, although that’s bound to happen with any public event.
Sanders: Debate week was pretty damn fun; it had fun topics that we didn’t have to take too seriously, and it let us experiment quite a bit with what we could do. On the other hand, public speaking is always pretty stressful, especially with the big audience that we got throughout the week.
What was your favorite debate during the week about, and why was it your favorite?
Dulatre: My favorite was the ‘Should the USFG Ban High School Football’, the only reason why I liked it [was] because it was so engaging with the audience, and that it was funny at the same time.
Espana: I personally loved Friday’s debate. Rather than simply being yet another debate, this was the debut event of two newcomers (Lauren and David). I was heavily impressed by their performance, alongside the amount of growth they underwent in such a short period of time.
Sanders: I’m not gonna say my debate was my favorite, as obviously I couldn’t really see how good it was from an audience perspective. But, I think the debate on Wednesday about whether we should ban high school football was really fun. The speakers were great, and the resolution (the debate prompt) resonated with a lot of the audience, so many were interested.
Which debates did you win? Which debates did you lose?
Dulatre: I lost my only debate.
Espana: I believe I was unable to win either debate I participated in, although it was a close match.
Sanders: Technically, we won the Ye debate, but with that one there was some bias involved in the voting, so at most I would call it a draw, if not in their favor.
How do you think the audience was? Do you feel like the biases they came in with impacted who won?
Dulatre: THE AUDIENCE WAS BIASED, THEY ALL LIKE CONN[E]R…that is all [I] have to say, AND YES IT IMPACTED GREATLY[!]
Espana: The audience was incredibly respectful, giving equal praise to all speakers and giving their full attention when it was time for them to speak. Biases naturally impacted who won a debate, although I’m thankful that a few audience members were able to shed their previous biases and have a change in opinion after hearing our debates.
Sanders: I think for what we could get, the audience was pretty good. Of course, everyone had their biases which did affect the debates, but that’s to be expected – it’s very hard to completely change someone’s opinion with just one debate.
Is there anything you would like to say to other students interested in joining the debate?
Dulatre: For the students who want to join debate, join only if you are truly dedicated to go to it and want to. You have to have the knowledge and responsibility if you really want to join, because everyone in that room is determined to be the best in [their] year/in that room (when we meet up after school). Everyone is working hard to debate competitively and they want to win when doing so. So the students who want to join have the same determination as everyone in the club/team, because we all collectively want to be the best and better than everyone at the same time.
Espana: As for students interested in joining the debate team, I have quite a few things to say:
Debate, at least in my opinion, is one of the best experiences a high schooler can have. Unlike the classes we have at school, debate teaches students to question the systems put in place around them. We constantly are forced to confront issues like poverty, oppression, inequality, and other things that public school curriculums tend to shy away from. However, we don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously either. The very first day we spent in debate, the resolution “Should the US Federal Government fund nuclear energy?” was said after “Should Bella end up with Edward?” It might seem all posh and serious from afar, but it’s student-owned and student-operated. Trust me, you’ll have fun here if you put in enough time.
Sanders: To all students who have any interest in joining the debate team: You absolutely should! It’s a little convoluted, but it can be very fun to think and speak your way through debates and the people in the club are just very fun to be around!
Aside from interviews with Friday’s debaters, The Paw conducted an interview with debate team member Michael Delgado (11) who helped with the week’s organization, planning, preparing and advertising.
He explained the reason behind having Debate Week and what it was: “It was an opportunity to let our debaters debate in front of their friends and classmates. We hold it every year to let BHS students see what we do in debate and hopefully inspire them to join.”
Similar to some of the Friday debaters, Delgado appreciated the audience turnout: “Getting a good sized crowd every debate was definitely something we are proud of. We were more happy that we saw many kids come multiple days in a row to see more debates.
As you’ve read, these members from the debate team had some amazing responses. It was an honor to conduct an interview with them. They proved that BHS knows how to debate, and our opponents should watch out. Next time BHS has a Debate Week I’m sure the topics will just be as enticing. Therefore, you should try to make it. In fact, take these debaters advice if you are contemplating joining the team. You could be part of the fun!