Team debates its way to the top

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debate photo

Chloe Pfeiffer

For weeks, eight members of the Debate Team had been preparing for an upcoming tournament – researching, pouring over pages of evidence, formulating arguments.

Last week, that preparation paid off.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, Redwood sent four two-person teams down to Lowell High School to compete in the tournament and debate the benefits of the rise of China to the interests of the United States, with two teams leaving victorious.

Seniors Anya Lukianchikov and Joey Poen went undefeated at the varsity level, and the novice team of senior Malena Ernani and freshman Eric Renner also won in their level. There are three different levels of debate – novice, junior varsity, and varsity – which depend on the speaker’s experience.

According to Lukianchikov, the teams have to prepare for and argue both the affirmative and opposing sides of an issue. Each tournament consists of four rounds per team – two rounds arguing each side. The students are judged on their arguments and how well they present their evidence.

Ernani, who had never attended a debate tournament before Saturday, said that the difference between the levels comes from debaters’ ability to express their argument, not necessarily the arguments themselves.

“The hardest part is stating your points eloquently, and that’s the difference between novice and varsity,” Ernani said. “You’re making the exact same points, but varsity is just so much more eloquent at making them, and they’re so much more skilled at speaking.”

Ernani and Lukianchikov both said that preparing for the tournaments has allowed them to learn about current affairs.

“I think it’s important to stay informed about current events and be aware of the world around you,” Ernani said. “You really go in depth for each tournament and you learn so much.”

Because Lukianchikov and Poen did so well in the tournament, they will now be able to go on to state and national qualifiers.

According to Lukianchikov, tournaments such as Saturday’s are the best part about the Debate Team.

“Usually we’re all complaining because we have to do loads of work and research, but then when you get to the tournament it’s loads of fun,” Lukianchikov said. “You need to be able to think on your feet, and you can’t let yourself be overcome with nervousness.”