BHS Debate: Debatably the Strongest Club


Berkley Yearbook

There are many amazing clubs at Berkley High School for students to join that all offer unique and wonderful experiences. However, there is a newer club that not only offers fun and competition, but also important and meaningful life skills that will help students down the road. This club is none other than The Debate Team.
The Debate Team came to Berkley in 2021. They participate in tournaments against other high schools and have had much success in the short time they have been around. For those who do not know how an official debate competition works, here is a breakdown of what typically happens. According to senior Zach Kirkwood, captain of The Debate Team, a typical debate consists of 8-10 rounds, each being around an hour. In the course of these rounds, both teams will get two speeches to present their side of the respective topic, as well as two cross-examinations (strategic questioning of their opponents) that are the buildup for what is commonly known as the rebuttal argument. “The main idea of a debate is to build up your argument with your earlier speeches and find points in the other team’s speech you can use against them in the rebuttal,” Kirkwood explains. “When we practice we always spend a lot of time making sure debaters are prepared for potential arguments from the other side, and are able to point out any potential flaws in their rebuttal argument,” Kirkwood further elaborates.
Despite being around for less than two years, BHS’s Debate Team has had tremendous success. Wondering what was the key to this, I turned to Debate coach Scott Warrow. “Hard work has been helping our success this year. Everyone has put a lot of effort in improving and sharpening their debating skills,” Warrow states. “Additionally, students have opportunities to engage in other activities as well, allowing for our team to be very versatile,” Warrow adds. All of these factors combined seem to be what led to them being sent once again to the National Championship that is later taking place in Dallas.
Kirkwood has said that due to a larger number of students this year, he has high hopes for going far and that they have already seen successes. “Many of these students are in the lower grades, so we have high hopes for the future of this club as they further develop their debating skills,” Kirkwood states. According to Junior Varsity debater Lydia Benelli, her interest in joining The Debate Team peaked when she first heard about it early in the year. “I thought it would be a very cool thing to engage in, and I can tell that it has definitely improved my critical thinking,” she explains. “I had high hopes for advancing in the debate competition due to the fact that we have been putting in a tremendous amount of work. These hopes were made a reality when my partner and I advanced to the National Championship that is happening in Dallas,” she adds.
One of the most important things debate seems to offer students is a variety of useful life skills. “Debate is a good extracurricular activity because students are able to engage in something that is not only enjoyable but teaches them principal soft skills that can be applied later down the road. Skills such as the ability to construct good arguments, articulating your voice and viewpoint, or cross-examining arguments for flaws are all skill sets that I believe can help beyond just the debate room,” Kirkwood states.
It seems clear now that debate is more than a mere club but an avenue to have fun while learning crucial new oratory abilities. We can only hope and look forward to Berkley’s debaters’ continued success, inside and outside of the debate room.