Debate is Life

The number one fear of Americans is public speaking. Before you shake your head in disbelief, consider this: in 1973, the Sunday Times of London, after conducting a survey of 3000 Americans, found that 41% listed public speaking as their greatest fear, while the second most popular fear, death, came in at only 19%. Since then, countless other surveys and studies have verified this trend. Ames High students have the opportunity to conquer that fear by joining the Debate Club at Ames High. “Debate is a really good experience to meet new people and improve your public speaking skills,” junior Zoey Russell, the leader of Debate Club, said. Russell joined Debate in her freshman year because she was interested in politics, so Debate seemed like a good outlet. Her participation in debate has not only given her practice in public speaking, but it has also helped her gain knowledge of what’s happening in the world. “Being in Debate has opened my eyes on the world,” Russell said. “Before, I just watched the news, but now I actually do research on topics.” Although it has existed at Ames High for decades, Debate is sometimes overshadowed by the numerous other clubs at Ames High. “There are not as many people in Debate as you would expect,” Russell said. This year there are about twelve members. They hope to recruit new members as the year goes on. Besides the five new members, Debate also has a new coach, Ms. Melissa Meyer, a math teacher at Ames High. Although she has no previous experience with debating, Ms. Meyer is enthusiastic about her new position. “Coaching Debate is really amazing,” Ms. Meyer said. “I’m learning a lot, not only about debate, but also about the topics kids are debating.” The topics that are debated range from the current economic economic problems to the genocide in Darfur. Different topics, as well as different styles of competition, are associated with the two types of debate competitions, the Public Forum Debate and the Congress Debate. This month’s Public Forum Debate topic deals with whether social networking sites are good. Sophomores David Lee and Colin Ogilvie are partners for Public Forum Debate. Their team name is LO, Least Organized. They are new to Debate, but like it already. When asked to describe their experience with Debate, they succinctly stated, “We feel peachy.” Members of Debate travel to ten to fifteen competitions per year. Most of the competitions are in Iowa, but a month ago they went to Chicago for a weekend. If you are interested in joining Debate, go for it. “New members are always welcome,” Russell said. If you have had no previous Debate experience, or even if you shy away from all kinds of public speaking, have no fear. Just believe in the motto of Debate Club: “Debate is life, everything else is prep time.”