Debate team participates in Kansas State Fair exhibitions

Morgan Barnes

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Members of the team await the start of the exhibition. Although only four varsity debaters participated, additional novice debaters attended to observe the skills displayed in the event.

The debate team attended the Annual High School Debate Exhibitions at the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 13. Three teams from the state of Kansas were chosen to participate in this event, based on reliability and past tournament results. The event has been going on for over 30 years, but this is the first time Newton has been invited to participate.

“I would describe the event as a demonstration rather than a competition. Each school that was picked to demonstrate provided two debaters for the affirmative and the negative, and they debated on the stage in front of the audience. It looks like a fancy type of performance, almost like it was theatre. We never debate in rooms like that in real debate tournaments,” debate coach David Williams said.

While this event was different than the traditional debate tournament in the structure and atmosphere, the debaters knew the information beforehand, which helped them to plan out the entire debate.

Junior Kenton Fox delivers a speech during the debate exhibitions on Sept. 13. The Newton team was one of three teams chosen to participate. “At the State Fair we were on a stage, and had a lot of people watching us, which made it different.”

“This was very pre-planned, and we had all of our arguments in advance. In a regular debate round, it would be kind of ‘off-the-wall’ and you wouldn’t know what was going to be said. This was more relaxed, and we knew what was going to happen,” junior debater Kailei Sidebottom said.

Not only did the debaters demonstrate the structure of a debate to spectators, but they were able to improve their individual skills.

“It benefits the team because the four debaters who actually get to participate get to prepare early before season starts, which makes us be able to handle more pressure. So, if we’re in a really tense debate where something very big is on the line for if we’ll win or not, we can relax and focus. We’ll perform much better than if we are super nervous,” Williams said. “The other thing is that almost all of our novices got to go with them. They got to watch the debates that happened.”

Even though the season is full of tournaments, unique events like these can give students a break from the normal schedule.

“I think that it would be very cool to do it again, and it would be an honor to be asked again. I definitely would take the opportunity,” Sidebottom said.