Debate Boosts College Chances

Fiona Deane-Grundman, Staff Writer

The competitive debate team participated in the Golden Gate Speech Association (GGSA) tournament on November 8 at Monte Vista High School. Members of both the Junior Varsity–Novice and Varsity divisions competed.

“We went 4 rounds from 8 to 3,” said sophomore JV division co-captain Kaveh Boostanpour. Of the Campolindo teams at the event, Boostanpour said 2 teams were undefeated, 2 teams won 3 rounds and lost 1, and no teams lost all 4 rounds.

Debate topics included government funding of NASA and the relationship between wealth and morality, according to Boostanpour.

Freshman David Gomez-Siu said, “It’s the 2nd GGSA debate program that we’re going to this year.” According to junior Ivan Gomez-Siu, a varsity debater, the squad was successful at the last GGSA event with “2 undefeated teams and 1 team [going] 3-0.”

David Gomez-Siu added, “Last tournament my partner and I went undefeated and Peter Moore and and Conor Hanvey also went 4-0.”

“GGSA’s are good practice so I think we should do well,” said Ivan Gomez-Siu.

Head coach Jake Glenndining said, “For the division that we are in, it is the equivalent to sectionals and regionals for other sports, and we’re expecting a lot of nearby schools to show up in a major way. For example Miramonte’s squad is going to be there and they’re going to be pretty fierce, but we’re also bringing a pretty large contingent.”

Preparation was rigorous as the tournament approached. Glindenning said, “Our debaters have really been hitting the grindstone lately and doing a lot of research and hopefully by tomorrow we’ll be ready to go and we’ll have something positive to report.”

At practice sessions, “we have general research areas that we assign people,” said Glendenning. “That way when the time comes we already have all the info we need and it’s just a matter of organizing our thoughts rather than doing research right then and there.”

According to Audrey Moore, the team uses the app Evernote to “save articles from Wikipedia so you don’t have to use WiFi.” She added, “It’s definitely a struggle if you don’t know a a lot about the topic but team prep is great because there are always a couple of people who do.”

The Campolindo debate program is fairly young. Glenndening said, “I’ve been with the debate program for about five years now and from what I’ve heard, the program started a year before then.” Glendenning believes the team has grown. “The program right now is thriving,” he said.

“Last year we had twelve members and this year we have 40, and most seem to love it because they keep showing up,” he explained. “We have a really young and ambitious squad.”

Lectures from outside speakers supplement practice sessions.”We got a lecture on politics and economics on Sunday last week,” said David Gomez-Siu.

Participants get very little time to prepare directly for the debate and rely on the knowledge they accumulate in practice. “We find out [the topic] 20 minutes prior to every debate and the topics are loosely based on what’s happening in the news media at the time. An example topic might be whether the federal government should intervene in Syria against the Islamic State and ISIS,” explained Glendenning. “Everything is completely random and we don’t know what side we’re on until right before hand.”

The general consensus within the squad is that their coaches are supportive and helpful. “We have amazing coaches,” said David Gomez-Siu. According to David Gomez-Siu, his coach “is the 4th in the nation” and a “top debater.”

Glendenning currently attends UC Berkeley, and participates in debate there. Sophomore Ming Qian said, “The coaches are excellent. We learn a lot about reputations and just debating in general and how to be more effective speakers.”

Moore said, “Since we do have such good coaches I think that we have the potential to be one of the best schools out there.” She mentioned Mirmonte, a main competitor.

“Miramonte has a [debate] class so people there are really devoted,” Moore said. But her squad has more than a fighting chance. “Their coaches are good but Jake and [assistant coach] Ryan [Hang] are two of the best,” she explained.

The camaraderie within debate club is as strong as in athletic teams. “Everyone there is really supportive. It’s a really great, close-knit community; you make a lot of friends and you get to know a lot of new people,” said David Gomez-Siu.

“A lot of people I’m close with are on debate,” added Ivan Gomez-Siu.

“We have team-bonding and a lot of really nice people do it so if not for the academic benefit it’s a great social thing,” added Moore.

“Some people might even consider it a sport because it’s very competitive,” said Ivan Gomez-Siu.

Glendenning explained debate is beneficial, whether or not you win an award. “There are several studies that show that high school debaters are the most highly sought after by college recruitment programs,” he said. “In regard to college recruitment it increases your propensity to get into your dream school by 4-9%, depending on the study you’re using, and according to admission counselors it’s the #2 thing they look for right behind whether you were involved in student government,” he added.

The rewards of debate can be reaped in high school as well as in the future, according to debate members. Freshman Brigitte Jia said, “It does improve your public speaking. That’s also helpful for  a lot of different programs. Knowledge about current events helps in history class.”

Qian added, “We are able to convince [people] to do something.”