Schreiber should have a debate class


Davis Choi, Staff Writer

For decades, debate has been a staple of extracurricular activities, encouraging students to work hard and learn life skills.  Schreiber’s debate team has been no exception and has consistently had impressive results.  

Last weekend, Schreiber competed against dozens of schools in the New York State Championships.  Of the eight teams Schreiber entered into the tournament, three advanced past the preliminary rounds and into the top 32 teams in the state in their respective divisions.  I was lucky to have taken part in this experience.

Representing Schreiber in Novice Public Forum Debate was team Sasha Bandler/ Reed Paltrowitz, who placed ninth in the state.  Representing Schreiber in Intermediate Public Forum Debate were the teams of  Davis Choi/ Ben Schiff and Bram Franchetti/ Ili Pecullan, who placed 15th and 21st, respectively, in the state.  Overall, we, the debate team, did a stellar job all season researching, writing, and speaking in a highly competitive environment.

While Schreiber does quite well in these competitions, it is at a distinct disadvantage with respect to some of its competitors. Some elite schools such as Regis, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant dominate these tournaments every year because they have debate classes which allow their students to improve their debating skills on a daily basis.  

“While we performed well, there is still a visible disparity between us and the New York City private schools that have meetings regularly,” said Bandler.

Not only would a debate class at Schreiber better prepare students to hold their own against the best of the best, but it would continue to build on the skills they learn in other classes and connect writing with history.  

Taking class time to learn the structure of a proper debate round would help students learn to properly organize their arguments.  Furthermore, by participating in practice rounds, students can learn the art of public speaking and increase their confidence in conversation.  

“Debate has helped me learn how to be more persuasive while arguing.  Whether it’s with my friends, parents, or teachers, my ability to be compelling has surely improved,” said freshman Jai Dillon.  

Members of the Schreiber Debate Team have developed close ties that are similar to those created on any other team.  Having a class specifically targeted at debating can help students communicate with their peers and develop bonds that could last throughout high school.  Classmates would be able to turn to each other for assistance and strengthen their own cases and rebuttals.  By sharing arguments, students would be able to learn more about the particular topics and share their arguments with the rest of the team.  Having a close knit team allows students to feel more comfortable seeking advice from others.  

“I love that whenever I am struggling, I can turn to my partner for advice and vice versa.  It is honestly the reason why I am so successful and confident at debate tournaments,” said junior Benjamin Schiff.  

Finally, having a debate class would make the debate team more accessible.  Currently, the team meets virtually and does practice rounds prior to tournaments, but problems sometimes arise.  This is because many of Schreiber’s students have multiple after-school commitments and extracurricular activities.  Whether it’s sports, drivers ed, or family responsibilities, after-school schedules sometimes prevent prospective members from even trying out.  Having an opportunity to take a debate class would alleviate this problem and lead to more participation in debate.  

“Balancing after-school activities is a problem for many students, but students shouldn’t be forced to choose between debate and sports, or any other combination of extracurriculars,” said freshman Ezra Loewy.

It is evident that a class that focuses on the art of debate would be extremely beneficial to any student who decides to take it.  It would allow Schreiber to boost it’s reputation as a top debate team in the state.  In addition, it will teach students key life skills and allow them to feel more confident when interacting with people who share a different viewpoint.  A debate class would foster strong bonds between students.  Overall, a debate class would be an exciting and beneficial experience for all students who decide to enroll.