Meet the Debate Team, the Art of Arguments

By Lauren Dulatre

For years the debate team has been a part of Benicia High and has won the school multiple awards, and going undefeated multiple times. Every year, throughout the school year, the debate team will host a ‘debate week’, which consists of multiple debates and people that rotate every day depending on the topic. To see how people from the debate team feel about the team and their accomplishments, I asked four people from the team: Tristan Espana, Gabriel Stockwell, Michael Delgado, and Olivia Biber. 

What made you join the debate team, did you have any prior experience?

Espana:  I joined debate because, simply put, I loved both politics and arguing. However, I hadn’t had any prior experience.

Stockwell:  I joined debate because of an email that was sent out at the beginning of last year about a week of debate learning. I showed up, got hooked, and stayed there ever since. Before then, I had not had any experience, however, I already enjoyed arguing and explaining arguments so I was immediately interested. 

Delgado: I joined because I wanted to get better at public speaking and I knew our debate team won awards and was very successful so I knew I’d be in good hands. 

Biber: I’ve always wanted to be on a debate team. Since I was probably in 5th grade. But I never had the opportunity until high school. You best believe that when I saw that flier I jumped at the opportunity and started going to meetings. I don’t have any prior experience per say, but I’m pretty damn good at arguing.

When you did your first tournament/competition did you feel more nervous or excited? Why?

Espana:  I felt a mixture of both in my first competition, although nervousness would eventually win out. It was mainly because of the short preparation time before a debate.

Stockwell: My first tournament was a little while ago, but I was super excited. I had gotten some great teaching from some BHS alum who were at DVC at the time, and I felt prepared and ready to kick some but. 

Delgado: I felt very nervous suddenly having to use everything we learned in a live debate against another team. Luckily they were more nervous so we won. 

Biber: At our first tournament I was originally really nervous. It’s one thing for someone to tell you what something is gonna be like, but it’s a whole different thing to experience it yourself. After the first round I felt great. We walked out of there knowing we won  and we did. We got a winning record at our first novice in tournament

What was your all time favorite topic to debate on (tournament or debate week)? What side were you on?

Espana: My favorite debate topic would be when I debated on whether or not the US should still sell weapons to Israel, which I argued for.

Stockwell:  I really enjoyed arguing the football topic. It was a mix of a few different pieces that I enjoy. I enjoyed the hilarity of the topic which is in contrast with debates about national politics. I also enjoyed it because it’s a side which is not a normal viewpoint. Those are the sides which need more work to be convincing and often the arguments can also be more interesting and crazy as well. 

Delgado: I loved debating on if schools should work to stop toxic masculinity and I was arguing against it 

Biber: during debate week I really enjoyed debating about influencers and we were on the affirmation side. We also got a topic once about an issue between China and the U.S (I don’t remember exactly what it was about. I really liked doing the research for that one and I was really invested in my arguments during the round. Of course we won so that felt pretty good too. That got us our first winning record in JV league

Are you planning on doing debate after high school/out of school programs? 

Espana: I’m planning to debate quite a lot in my career as a lawyer and politician. 

Stockwell:  I’m a junior now, and I enjoy debate. So I will definitely keep doing debate while I’m in high school, though I probably won’t do it outside of school. Once I get to college, we will see, but I will likely check out the debate team there and think about joining it 

Delgado: Definitely next year but probably never again after that 

Biber: I am most definitely planning to do debate after high school at the college level. I love debate so much and I’d say I’m pretty good at it so I will definitely continue with it. And I also hope to become a politician someday so hopefully I’ll be debating for a living. 

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