Thomas Jefferson

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A Standing Oration

Posted 12/17/2017 by Logan Cecil

Speech and Debate members pose for a team photo with their ribbons from competition. photo by Lauren Palek

The Speech and Debate club prepares to represent TJ in future competitions.

After returning from a hiatus, the TJ Speech and Debate club is taking their best orators to competition. Sponsor and English teacher Lauren Palek instructs the speakers, many of whom have aspirations to win state championships. It’s a lot of work, but they’re willing to put in the effort to get there.

So far this year, the team has attended five competitions, and is anticipating their competitions next semester. At each meet, there are fifteen different events from which students can choose. TJ takes part in the Public Forum, Congressional, and Lincoln-Douglas debates as well as the Informative and Original Oratory speech events. Public Forum is a two-person debate which has several rounds of speaking, responding, and cross-examining; the subject is always a topic of national interest. Congressional Debates incorporate a very large number of competitors who question and introduce proposition to laws that other students present. Lincoln-Douglas is a single-person debate which includes a few rounds of constructive speeches, but mainly focuses on the rebuttals and cross examinations that students have to come up with on the fly. In the Informative speech event, the competitor picks a topic of personal interest and informs the audience about the subject. Lastly, in the Original Oratory event the speaker gives a ten minute persuasive speech on a subject of their choice. The meets cater to a wide variety of tastes and it makes for some very exciting events.

One of the more recent competitions TJ participated in on November 17th and 18th was the Raptor Rumble, hosted by Eaglecrest High School, where nine Spartans competed. “They are intense. It is awesome to watch because you get to see students from all across the state and everybody brings their ‘A-game,’” Palek noted. Many students spend countless hours preparing and memorizing their speeches and responses in order to leave victorious. Sadly, no trophies were brought back, but depending on success at qualifiers towards the end of February, they have a chance to compete at regionals, state, and potentially nationals.

Next semester, the team is hosting a Big Questions Debate at TJ, which will give any Spartans interested in the club the opportunity to meet the team and learn about the competitions. Senior Jehu Iyema said, “It will be a great time, come out and have fun!” The event will always focus on a philosophical question, this year’s question revolving around animal rights, and anyone who would like to participate is welcome.

Currently the club consists of eleven students, ten of whom are seniors. The club is inclusive and is looking for new members. Anyone interested in joining should speak to Palek in room 220.