Congress debate workshop prepares returning members, new students for competition


Abby Esquibel

Students prepare for UIL in Ms. Cox’s journalism room.

Candace Taggart, Features Editor

To further understand Congressional Debate, past members and interested newcomers are preparing for the season.
“Going into my second year of sponsoring congress debate, I feel we know a little bit more about the event and I’m excited,” sponsor Leslie Graham said.
Everyone who signed up for Congressional Debate participated in a virtual workshop on Sept. 1, instead of the in-person one students participated in last year.
The workshop was led by debate coach Sarah Swatzell from Vernon High School.
“The hard part about the shop being virtual is that you have to see the debate in action before you understand how it works,” Mrs. Graham said. “But, the information was clearer than last year’s information about the processes you have to follow.”
Junior Chance Harmon is new to Congressional Debate this year and participated in the virtual workshop.
“The workshop could’ve been presented better,” Harmon said. “But, I learned a lot about the guidelines you have to follow for this event.”
Freshman Justine Neely said Congressional Debate is “a lot to chew on.”
“The workshop was very informational and I’m still processing some of it,” Neely said.
Sophomore Ryan Wilson is returning to Congressional Debate with some more ideas.
“The workshop helped me edit the legislation for debate I was writing,” Wilson said.
There are five returning debaters from last year and three new students interested in this event.
“It’s always good to have new people,” Mrs. Graham said. “When building a program you want new students to see how successful the last members were and want to join.”

When building a program you want new students to see how successful the last members were and want to join”

— Leslie Graham

Sophomore Emily Shephard returned to compete in Congressional Debate after being alternate to the state meet.
“I’m looking forward to work with my teammates because even though we’re head to head during competition, we have each other’s back at the same time,” Shephard said. “It was a bittersweet experience going to the capitol building because I was happy my friend made it, but I was so close and didn’t, which is why I’m excited to try again this year.”
Wilson,who was an alternate on the team, said he returned because he enjoyed the creative freedom he had while writing speeches
“I want to make the team this year, so I’ve been working on my annunciation and practicing it on my own,” Wilson said.
Harmon said he joined Congressional Debate because he has always enjoyed history and politics.
“I’ve never had an outlet to debate laws and government before, but this event allows me to partake in it officially,” Harmon said.
Neely said other UIL competitions are “always hectic” and joined this debate because it looked different.
“Congressional Debate seems very professional and high-class, so it attracted me to it,” Neely said. “I respect the UIL event and members of it when they have to dress and compete professionally.”
Shephard said she has some helpful advice for newcomers of Congressional Debate.
“You don’t know what you’re doing until you enter the chamber because the experience is completely different than anything they’ve seen before, even with lots of preparation,” Shephard said.