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The great Colorado debaters

RHMS debate team Hofmeister-McDonald-Stroud (HMS) came in among the top three teams at the debate tournament in December, winning second place. The team members also captured the top three spots for individual speaking skill. Pictured from left: Maudie Stroud, Carter McDonald and Landon Hofmeister.

Submitted by Carter McDonald and Colson Morley, RHMS students; photo courtesy of Cole Lindsey

Around since the dawn of communication, debate is a tool that has potentially saved or improved lives, aided governments through times of intense struggle, and even led to countries saving the world. Debate is a great form of expression that everyone has done at least once, and anyone can do. Debate is also something that a select group of students at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) has done throughout the 2018-2019 school year.

At a debate tournament the weekend of December 8, the RHMS debate team faced off against students from Hill Middle School in Denver, Mountain Ridge Middle School (MRMS), and Cimarron Middle School. The debate topics were: the United States government should establish price controls for pharmaceutical drugs, there should be mandatory drug testing for high school extracurricular activities, middle school grades should be factored into high school GPAs, and bike and scooter sharing systems do more harm than good.

The RHMS students also faced an extemporaneous topic, with limited time to prepare: trophies at debate tournaments do more harm than good. This meant the students relied on their own logic and argument-crafting skills to win the debate. For every other topic, students were required to research and develop arguments to ultimately win their team the case and get themselves higher speaker scores. How well the speakers gave their speeches determined the speaker scores, which ultimately determined whether speakers placed on the podium there at the tournament, the national teams for the school, or the podium at the national championship. Knowing the kinds of awards available was important, as each debater could place individually or place with their team.

The top three teams and top five debaters won trophies. The RHMS team comprised of Landon Hofmeister, Carter McDonald and Maudie Stroud took second place at the tournament. First and third place both went to MRMS teams. Regarding speaking points, Ava Smith (MRMS) took fifth place, Addie McNeil (MRMS) fourth place, Maudie Stroud third place, Landon Hofmeister second place and Carter McDonald first place.

These students worked very hard and will tell you exactly that, if you chance to meet them. That is the reason Lynn Legg, teacher-sponsor of debate, as well as Shreya Naik, head coach of debate, return year after year: to teach the value of hard work, being able to see two sides of an issue, and research.

Essential to succeeding in life, these skills make well-rounded, experienced members of society who are more prepared to face tomorrow’s challenges. Carter McDonald said, “The main thing that makes debate so special is that on top of all it teaches, it provides an opportunity that often isn’t something that other classes and activities do – which is why I, and others, come back year after year to enjoy the opportunity that debates like this provide.” These experiences, such as debate, leave lasting, lifelong impacts on participants on their journey of self-improvement, learning and passion.

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