Lincoln-Douglas and Policy Debaters Qualify For State Championship


Fast-paced, well-researched arguments formed through student-made observations that are built around facts, data, and statistics, all of which are accompanied by logical thinking as the glue to hold it all together, are rattled off by debaters as they compete for each judge’s vote.

On January 7th, 2023, Lincoln-Douglas debater Teagan Harmon and Policy debaters Rowan Anderson and Jack Humphrey won enough rounds while they competed in a debate tournament to qualify for the debate state championship, which took place exactly one week later. 

“It is the first in-person state qualifier in three years,” said Harmon. “It was pretty exciting and nerve racking at the same time.”

Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments are certainly a stressful experience, as debaters often must make sure they are reading their cases and cards as quickly enough to relay as much information to their judge as they can while being under strict time constraints, so a lot of time goes into preparing the best arguments they can. Harmon says she prepared her cases by first researching the topic to get to know it better, then finding convincing arguments for both sides of the topic, and lastly building her cases around them. Although policy debate does function somewhat differently, it still requires a lot of preparation for those who want to make it to the state championship.

“I got a new affirmative case, so I had to make sure that I had that down in eight minutes because we try to pack as much information as we can in eight minutes,” said Humphrey.

Being under so much pressure to perform as well as they can in their tournaments, policy debaters need time to memorize and practice speed-reading the information they will have to cover during rounds. 

“We have practices most days of the week, so that’s what we work on in those times,” Anderson added. 

Anderson also explained that there were only a select few smaller schools that went to debate at the tournament, so they were debating against some people they don’t normally debate against. Speaking of other debaters, Mercedes Hamilton, a student who competed in both the state and nationals portions of the debate championship that took place in 2021 and graduated from SFHS that same year shared her thoughts on the experience, and on how this year’s state championship might be somewhat different for our qualifying students.

“Even though nationals was scheduled to be in person, it got moved online,” said Hamilton. “It was a lot of zoom calls and being on the computer. It was really different because I was debating in my bedroom, which I definitely wasn’t used to doing before. I’m glad that this year’s participants for the state championship get to have a different experience, and that it will be their own unique experience.”