East Debate wins third place at South Jersey Debate League Championships

East Debate wins third place at the South Jersey Debate League championships held at Lenape High School.

Courtesy of Heather Vaughn.

East Debate wins third place at the South Jersey Debate League championships held at Lenape High School.

Cherry Hill East’s Debate team won third place in their division at the South Jersey Debate League Championships hosted by Lenape High School on February 23rd, 2022. Grace Yoon (’24) won “Team Best Speaker” for junior varsity and Jacob Resnick (’22) won “Team Best Speaker” for varsity. They were able to end their season on a great note.

The championships were very exciting for the Debate Team because both the season last year and preliminary rounds this season were virtual. In-person debate rounds are typically held at a school, with only two affirmatives, two negatives, a judge, and a timekeeper in the room. Because the championships were in-person, the event looked as expected. Everyone had to dress according to the business casual dress code to look “official” while presenting their debate.

East participates in “policy debate,” meaning they focus on implementing policies. Their topic this season was on the protection of water resources.

The structure behind debate rounds is always strictly ordered and timed. First, you have four constructive speeches that will be around 8 minutes each. The first affirmative usually starts and explains the well-thought-out plan. Ananya Balasubramanya (’24) is the varsity’s first affirmative who had to present their plan of protecting water resources. After each constructive speech, there is a cross-examination. The negative comes up to the affirmative and starts asking questions about the plan. “Some try to trick you, but others are more civil … it gets a bit aggressive,” says Balasubramanya (’24). After the cross-examinations, the debaters are given a small prep break and then jump back into the round for the rebuttal speeches. The rebuttal speeches wrap up the main points of each team’s argument.

Members of the debate team have noticed how much this season has helped them with public speaking as well as researching. Balasubramanya (’24) said that unfortunately ”[they] had a little trial by fire at first.” However, because of her role in the debate (an affirmative), she and her partner were able to restructure their plan. Balasubramanya (’24) says, “In the next round we won very quickly.”

The stress from Debate Team can be overwhelming when you take into account all of the hard work each member has to do. Yoon (’24) and Balasubramanya (’24) spend hours a week forming and updating a plan with their partners. This season, it was clear that their hard work and love for debate paid off once they placed third at the championships.

The Debate season is now over, but many members are already looking forward to next year’s season. They hope and expect it to be in-person debate rounds, which is very exciting considering that some of the newer members have never debated in person before and only on zoom.