Meet the novices

Kristina Humphery


Why did you join speech and debate?

I joined debate because a varsity member told me a lot about it and it sounded cool. I was really interested in the Duet Improv, along with the other events debate has to offer.

What events do you do?

I do Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Duo Interpretation, Prose, Oratory and Duet Improv. Duo Interp is fun because two people chose a book or script and cut it down and then act it out for a judge. What is interesting is that we aren’t allowed to look or touch each other. It sounds awkward, but the more you get into the character and meaning, the better and easier it is to deliver your message.

The novices are very hard workers and determined to carry on the legacy! It has definitely been hard, but watching them grow as debaters and speakers is amazing,”

— Peter Petev, 11

What is it like to go to a debate tournament?

Well, everyone is really nervous and excited because we all want each other to do well and to not mess up. Especially the overnight tournaments, we get to meet people from all over the Midwest so it’s a great experience and kinda nerve-wrecking. But we really get to bond as a team at the overnight tournaments, like at Bradley University we had a dance party in the hotel room.

What are some of the benefits of speech and debate?

The benefits of speech and debate are that it helps me become a better writer, speaker and person. It helps me write in English with depth and structure, and it makes me not so afraid to get up and speak or even just raise my hand in class. The things you speak and debate about really change your mindset, because you try to learn both sides of the issue and problem through your research.

What are your hopes for the future, in debate?

I hope to make it to nationals someday. Nationals has people from all over the country qualify to make it there for debate and events. It’s in a different city every year.

Bharat Sreekrishnavilas



What events do you do?

I do Extemporaneous Speaking, which is an event in which I am given 30 minutes to answer and prepare a speech regarding a question on foreign and domestic politics. I also do Policy Debate. In Policy it’s a system of two teams of two. Each team gives four speeches total, two speeches per person. One team acts as affirmation to a resolution and the other team acts as the negative.

What’s the best thing about being a novice?

Everyone, and I mean everyone, helps you understand what to do and how to do it until you know how to do it yourself. And even after that, they will still help you. They have really helped me with everything, and have always answered my questions and clarified things to better my understanding.

What has been the most difficult thing about debate?

The most difficult would have to be coming up with speeches on the fly. In almost every activity offered at competitions, you have very limited time to come up with a general idea for a speech, hone it down into a convincing one using persuasive lingo and present it in a way that makes the judges want to vote for you.

It’s not always easy to teach people about the obscure topics we debate or the little, fine details in the structure of what we do. Each and every one of them, especially the ones I’ve specifically worked with over the year, have all improved, ”

— Robbie Lasky, 12

Has debate helped you in school?

Debate helps you with English. Not only does it help you understand how to write a better paper, everything just feels easier compared to the stuff you do at competitions. Debate also gives you an in-depth perspective on the political affairs in the world and helps you become a better and more eloquent public speaker and helps you feel comfortable speaking to new people.

Are there any traditions the Debate team does before a competition?

Some that I can think of off the top of my head are singing the West High fight song before we get off the bus at competitions. Also going out for a team dinners after competitions, which is usually at Red Robin.

How is it to be apart of the debate community?

Contrary to popular belief, kids in the Speech and Debate Club aren’t shy and awkward hermits. They are cool, crack jokes with each other, and are the most welcoming people I have ever met. It has been great to be able to practice and work with them.

Ryan O’Connor




What events do you do?

My first event is Original Oratory, in which one writes a 10 minute persuasive speech on a topic of your choosing, and then recite it by memory at tournaments. I also do Lincoln-Douglas debate, commonly referred to as “LD.” This is an interesting debate because not only is it relevant with current topics, but it is also centered around the idea of morals, ethics and values.

What does the debate team mean to you?

The team feels like a second family to me, and I love each and every person on it. Not just that, but the teams from other schools are all full of great people too. I’ve met so many amazing people from all across Eastern Missouri.

How much time is put into a tournament, and why?

Well, it all really depends. You can put in two to 10 hours of work for cases, which probably sounds really time consuming but it all pays off in the end at the tournament. What work and effort you put in generally is very rewarding because you have a better chance of doing well because you have that confidence and skill.

Describe some things you do in order to prepare an argument or speech for a tournament.

I go over everything the judges want me to improve and fix it. I also try to make sure my hand motions and body movement.

Have you been doing well in debate? Win any specific tournaments?

I have done well at multiple tournaments, and sure I’ve won a few trophies, but that’s not what debate is about. Doing well in debate isn’t about how many trophies you win, or how many times you’re tournament champion, but rather, whether or not you have fun. If you have fun at every tournament and never win a trophy, in my book you’re much better at debate that the guy who places at every tournament but only does it for trophies.

They’re some of the most eager to learn in terms of their willingness to embrace new structures of communication,”

— Bryan Zhang, 11

Who has helped you the most so far, in your speech and debate career?

Even though the whole team has helped me so much, I’d have to say that Mrs. [Cara] Borgsmiller and senior Robbie Lasky have been major helps to me, along with sophomore Nina Maitra for always being there for me at tournaments/constantly encouraging me to actually finish my cases and Madame Harig for letting me use her room nonstop for practice rounds

What is the most difficult thing about doing speech and debate?

The most difficult thing about debate is for sure its time consumption. Although fun and worth it, I have had to dedicate countless hours to my cases, my oratory, and tournaments. Debate is definitely a major social commitment too, as tournaments always fall right after school on friday and late into that night and then all of the following Saturday.

Nina Maitra



Why did you join debate?

I joined debate because I really wanted to expand my horizons and see what this whole other world has to offer. So far, I have not been disappointed. Joining debate was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

What events do you do in debate?

The events that I do in debate are Radio Speaking, Poetry Interpretation and also LD or Lincoln-Douglas. In Radio, which is my first event, you have to write a five-minute script that broadcasts the latest news, and it all has to be written the night before, not anytime before that. To make it like a real broadcast, there’s sports, weather, local, national and international news, plus with a commercial that you can make your very own! Poetry Interpretation, is also a fun event as well! You can probably tell from the title of the event that it has something to do with poetry. You get to choose a poem, or a series of poems, that focus on a central theme or idea.

The novice debaters this year learned that the first year of debate or anything in highschool, doesn’t dictate your success for the following three years. You have to always try to improve yourself and learn from the opportunity of being a novice,”

— Nick Chiu, 12

What are some things that you find challenging in debate?

One of the most difficult things about debate is how much time and preparation comes with actually doing it. It takes a lot of revisions, rewrites, and practice rounds to get prepared for tournaments, but it’s definitely worth it.

Would you recommend someone to join debate?

Yes, because there are so many benefits to doing debate. You get to be more well-versed in certain areas of politics, your presentation and speaking skills improve so much, and you learn how to communicate effectively with people! Plus, by doing speech and debate tournaments, you get to meet so many awesome, new people from different schools all around Eastern Missouri!

Do you plan on doing debate next year? And if so, what are some things you look forward to next year?

Some things that I’m looking forward to next year is that I’ll get to meet even more new people, from my school and others, and I look forward to making all new memories with my teammates.