Debate Team Argues to The Win

Staples Debate Team members discuss an important issue in preparation for an upcoming conference. | Photo by Devin Skolnick '11

On Oct. 16, the Staples Debate Team competed in an extemporaneous state–wide tournament at the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering in Stamford, Conn., during which team members were unaware of the given topics before debate began.

Co–captains Jeremy Rubel ’11 and Emily Harris ’11 walked away from the competition with the first place title for all teams at the tournament. Underclassman Jacob Meisel ’13 also received eighth place in the ranking of best speakers of the day.

At this particular tournament, the debate was to settle a resolution for whether or not the United States should legalize the sale and use of illicit drugs. 80 students competed, from about a dozen different Connecticut schools.

Rubel said he was “shocked” to hear his name and Emily’s called for the finals, which meant that their record was 3–0 for the day.

Advisor, English teacher Julia McNamee, admits that she wasn’t surprised with the win. “Emily and Jeremy are both really smart and also really articulate,” she said. “They happened to be captains, so it was kind of funny.”

McNamee added that of the debates in which the team has competed through the Connecticut Debate Association (CDA), this is the first year the team has won at the varsity level. “We had had some teams compete at the varsity level, but they had never done this well,” she said.

“It’s really exciting,” Rubel said, of the tournaments his team attends. “We have an hour to construct our cases, so it’s fun hearing all of the ideas flowing between the different members of the team about their points of view on the issue.”

Harris also noted that during events, teams often have to switch between the pro and con sides of an argument, which she calls a “great experience.”

“It’s a scramble for time for us to finish our cases before the hour is up, but we always somehow manage,” Rubel said.

McNamee believes that debate allows her students to “enjoy their selves – kind of explosively – using their brains.” In her eyes, debate is “a way to spontaneously come up with as creative and compelling thinking” as is possible.

As for Rubel, he says he tries to employ the same creative and compelling thinking in everyday arguments, as well.

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this my whole life with arguing with my parents,” Rubel said.

Along with preparing for other CDA policy debates, the Debate Team will also spend the year getting ready for the Rotary Four-Way Speech competition on Dec. 8, as well as a national debate at Columbia University.

The Debate Team meets after school in room 2002 on Tuesdays. New members are always welcome.