Debate Team Wins First Competition

In their first debate on October 17, Leonia High School’s Debate Team defeated Dwight Englewood and Bergen Academies. Seniors Emily Kaufman and Marcus Choi weighed in on the team and their expectations for this season.

The debate team, led by seniors Emily Kaufman, Danilo Lavia, Michael Gutter, Erica Jalal, and Dylan Gonzalez, started its season with a win last Thursday. The topic of their first debate was about the substantially increased amount of economic engagement in Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico. Overall, Leonia came out of their first competition against the debate teams of Dwight Englewood, Bergen County Academies, and Tenafly High School with a win. “My team went two and two, winning two rounds and tying two” explained Emily Kaufman. “Hopefully later in the season we won’t tie as much and will be able to go 4-0.”

Emily, who has been on Leonia’s debate team since freshman year, when she was on the junior varsity team, is now a varsity debater. She is looking forward to a long year of debating, jam-packed with two debates a month for most of the school year. In comparison to recent years, this year’s team seems to have more of a focus on planning, which should fulfill the four pillars of debate (character, commitment, team work, hard work). “This year I also personally feel more prepared than in the past.” Marcus, on the other hand, explained that as a judge, he is more independent from the other debate teams. The main difference for him is “the people are different.”

This year, similarly to past years, the team’s biggest competitors are Dwight Englewood and Bergen Academies. Many would assume these school’s debate teams had an advantage over Leonia’s. This is because at these schools, students take specific debate courses. However, in their first competition, Leonia came out with a win over these schools, hopefully foreshadowing for the year to come.

The Baylor, which is a book filled with plans for a debate, as well as the arguments that can be made against those plans, prevails to be a very helpful too for debaters.  The Baylor, however, seems to help the junior varsity debaters more than varsity debaters. “In varsity though, people’s plans tend to be a little more complex and are rarely in the Baylor.” Although it may not always be helpful for varsity debaters like it is for the junior varsity, the Baylor is often used by debaters across the country for quotes. Emily explains, “[The Baylor] is basically the Bible for debate.”

Marcus Choi, a senior judge on the team, joined debate just this year. As a judge, Marcus “listens to and analyzes both sides of the argument, and comes up with an answer based on the information received.” As one would expect a judge to do, Marcus plans for a fun year of fair judging and hopefully some wins for their team.

Although seniors Emily Kaufman and Marcus Choi have different jobs on this year’s debate team, both are anxious for what they hope prevails to be a fun, successful year of debating.  They also both have great faith in this year’s team, as well as the debate teams of the future.  The two believe that future varsity teams will succeed in debate, as they will. “[Success in] debate is really about experience. The more experience you have, the better” explained Kaufman.

Leonia High School’s debate team has many more debates to come, and is looking forward to a great year full of success in debating.