SHS Debate Team Takes State
When arguing points about pressing issues, such as politics or foreign policy, it’s not often students imagine creating history at their school. But that’s exactly what students at Schaumburg High School did as they debated their way to victory.
The SHS Debate Team captured the Illinois High School Association State Debate Title during competition at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., on March 16 and 17. Senior Kali Froh, a varsity four-year debater, led the charge into the final round to help claim the championship in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
“This was for the students to validate every ounce of hard work,” said Darrel Robin, debate team sponsor and English teacher. “For the school, this brings academic distinction because it’s a scholastic achievement.”
The Saxons used knowledge of philosophy, rhetoric, and political science to advance three debaters into elimination rounds after five preliminary debates. One SHS student remained after all other competitors were eliminated during quarters, semis, and the final debate, which led the team to success.
To qualify for elimination rounds, teams must have high records — winning the argument in the debate — and high speaker points, which is how they deliver their arguments. If there is a tie, students with higher speaker points advance to the next round.
Additionally, competitors are required to prepare for both sides of an argument, which means that they must debate both affirmative and negative aspects of the issue.
To earn a spot on the All-State Debate Team, students must have the highest speaker points. Although a team may win the tournament, it does not guarantee students will make the team. However, the Saxons did qualify for this distinction. This year, Froh was named captain of the All-State Debate Team and won first place. Senior Palak Patel, a varsity four-year debater, took seventh place, and senior Aru Singh, also a varsity four-year debater, finished fourth.
Debate has been an IHSA sport since the 1930s, and this is the second time a District 211 school has won the title, after Fremd High School was crowned state champions in 2005.
Robin, who started coaching the Saxons seven years ago when the team only consisted of five students, has watched his squad grow to more than 60 debaters. The coaching staff also includes Carl Schwartz, a former State Champion from Elk Grove High School, Art Teacher Colleen Singer, English Teacher Kate Ksiazek, and Sam Haque, a former Schaumburg High School student and debater.
“Think about the quality of our students, not just their dedication, hard work, or intellect, but that they find debate valuable and think that current events and politics matter for the world,” Robin said, “because they do matter, and that students believe they matter speaks volumes.”
Schaumburg High School will have the opportunity to represent its community and Illinois at the 2012 National Forensic League Debate Tournament this June in Indianapolis, Ind.