It’s Not Up for Debate: Debate Season is Starting Again


Debate season is back and both new and returning team members have been preparing through informational weekly meetings and mock tournaments.

Is it polite to argue? For the Potomac Falls Debate Team, it is when you argue politely. 

The third debate tournament event that the Debate Team participated in took place last Saturday, Dec 4, and it was one of the last of the virtual tournaments for this year. With debate meetings every Wednesday after school, novices have had the opportunity to learn and practice proper and effective speech-writing and delivery from returning members.

This year, debaters have faced unusual tournament timing, meaning topics have been published late and without notice, causing delayed preparation. “So far, the team has been doing relatively well. We had just gotten new novices, and although WACFL’s tournament timings this year are rough, they’ve been steadily getting the hang of things,” said sophomore Mimichelle Cao, Debate Team Public Relations Officer.

Debate team members in this area primarily prioritize a style of debate known as Congressional Debate. “We focus on current political issues, both international and domestic, and create legislation and build arguments on that legislation to prep us for our tournaments,” said Kathleen McDermott, English teacher and three-year sponsor of Debate Team.

A tournament is an all-day event where students from different schools come together to deliver and discuss speeches on their legislation. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning, tournaments have been virtual since last year.

“I think [with] virtual tournaments, there’s a much more relaxed approach to debate,” said sophomore Lily Jacobs, Debate Team Social Media Director. “There’s not really a big emphasis on how you stand, how you present yourself in terms of posture and walking around and also reading speeches.”

Debate Team members are expecting to resume in-person tournaments once again later this year. “In-person tournaments are so much better because it’s actually public speaking; while, online, you’re just staring at a screen,” said senior Marium Khawaja, Debate Team captain.

Many members believe the Debate Team offers many benefits, from enhancing college applications to becoming a better public speaker. “It’s also really nice because it forces you to think about current issues, research both sides of an issue so you have a very well-rounded understanding of the topic, whatever your personal opinion is,” said McDermott.

New Debate Team members are encouraged to join weekly meetings to choose and discuss topics to write about in preparation of the tournaments. “I’ve learned a lot about writing in general and how to properly form [arguments] and show my perspective on it,” said sophomore Varshini Gokul, Debate Team member.

The Debate Team is comprised of almost 15 active members. “It’s a really, really supportive community,” said senior Amelia Smith, Debate Team Treasurer.