The FHC debate team embarks on a new season


For nearly twenty years, students of FHC have been yelling at each other. Yes, yelling at each other, but not in the way you are probably thinking.

The FHC Debate team goes back in school history, and September 16 marked the beginning of a new year and the creation of a new team. And leading this new team are co-captains Akansha Das and Anabel Varghese, who are both embarking on their third year of debate with lots of knowledge on the community.

“The debate community is so cool because you will meet someone from most likely every race, sexuality, ethnicity, and more,” Akansha said. “Nearly every fragment of society is represented, so you not only get to meet a variety of people, but you also get to hear their nuanced views on a variety of topics.”

The community of debate is broad beyond borders. The debate team members are not only able to expand their knowledge, but also expand their horizons of society. 

Part of the broad society of debate is that the community accepts anyone. Even now, members are still able to join the debate team, no matter who they are, and the captains are both ready to welcome new people.

“People should join debate because you’ll never lose an argument with your friends,” Akansha laughed. “And, [debate team] is a really great way to practice public speaking skills, learn about politics,  and meet a lot of cool people.”

Both captains find debate team to be a worthwhile and memorable experience. It is a one-of-a-kind team that can’t be replicated by other clubs or extracurriculars.

“Being on the debate team is a unique experience,” Anabel said. “Coach Tow has so much wisdom and advice to impart on her students, and the people on the team and in the debate community are super smart, love debate, and are so quirky. I love all of it.”

So, what does the debate team actually do?

Competition wise, the debate team starts off by competing downtown against other schools every Wednesday for about five weeks. And every year, the debate team also competes at the Metro League tournament. This year the tournament falls on October 23rd. There is always the opportunity for debate to go to more competitions, it all just depends on their success.

When they’re not competing, the debate team is busy practicing.

“At a typical debate meeting, we debrief on updates regarding competitions and all things debate,” Anabel said. “At the beginning of the season, we mostly spend time teaching our novices the structure of debate and the different strategies to go about a round.”

As the season continues, the basis of practice shifts to more of a review of previous debates to expand on.

“Later, our meetings consist of updating evidence and speeches to prepare for tournaments,” Akansha said, “along with debriefing about what cases other teams are running. We also go over what worked well and what didn’t.”

Based on the first few meetings, the captains were able to take note of how dedicated and excited this year’s members of the FHC debate team seem. The team is ready to compete and the captains can feel the excitement too. With this excitement comes positive goals from the captains for the team.

“My goals for the team are that they learn something new and have a good experience while doing so,” Anabel said. “[Debate] is difficult, so I hope that they work hard because they will really reap the benefits. I know I did.”

Nearly every fragment of society is represented, so you not only get to meet a variety of people, but you also get to hear their nuanced views on a variety of topics.”

— Akansha Das

In terms of the actual debate, it is set up much differently than what, for example, political debates look like on TV. The high school debates are much more structured, with different key parts and more civility.

By carrying out the debates with civility, the members of the debate team are able to take in a lot more from each debate. They are able to learn a lot more.

“The atmosphere around debate is a very safe one; you can experiment here and gain a lot,” Anabel said. “The competitions are learning grounds, and even if during the round there may be hostility in the opposing team’s tone of argument, you find yourself chatting away about what went down after that round as if nothing ever happened.”

The debate team, as well as the debate community as a whole, is full of people who are passionate about what they believe. 

Lots of relationships are formed throughout debate, especially when it comes to the FHC team. When you get a group of people all fighting for the same thing, people are bound to get along.

“The best part of the debate team is spending time with the team, especially on the way there and back to competitions,” Akansha said. “There’s always last-minute nerves and last minute stuff we need to do, but everyone on the team is super talented and smart in their own way, and it’s nice to get to know such an amazing group of people.”

Debate is overall unique. You can’t get the same experience through other activities and clubs; debate is entirely its own thing.

Debate teaches critical thinking skills in a way no other activity does,” debate coach Pamela Medford-Conley said. “[Debate] also teaches research skills, public speaking skills, and enables the participants to identify factual sources and arguments.”

So, how will the debate team fair this year? We will just have to wait and see, but as a new team merges together, the captains envision a bright season ahead.

The atmosphere is really accepting and friendly,” Akansha said. “[Anabel and I] love making new connections and welcoming new people. Everyone is having fun, as well as learning, and things are looking really good.”