The Middle School debate team continues to work hard, refine their techniques and gain important skills as they prepare each week in C109 to compete in five tournaments per year, including nationals.
Students compete in pairs or triplets. At the second tournament of the year at Brentwood School, two of the teams ranked eighth and fifteenth place out of forty teams.
“We are definitely getting better,” Annie ’15 said. “We really improved in our second tournament, and we plan to win some more.”
For each tournament, the girls prepare pro and con speeches on four current news topics, such as the death penalty, with supporting points on each side.
“All of the work really pays off when you get to stand up there and debate in front of other people. Even practice debating is really fun,” Annie said.
The team is coached by history instructor Andrea Drobnick with additional assistance from Spanish instructor Regina Rosi, Director of Middle School Robert Bryan, science instructor Judy Mirick and English instructor Chris Brinsley.
“Ms. Drobnick really helps us,” Emma ’15 said. “She pushes us to do our best and not rely on other people and helps us work as a team. She wants us to get a lot out of the experience.”
In the weeks leading up to a tournament, the team meets almost every day during the school week at break and at lunch. Normally, though, the team meets three times a week at break or lunch.
“They are very supportive of one another, and they practice a lot together. Because of the amount of time they spend together, they become a close-knit group,” Rosi said.
Despite the large amount of work, many debaters said they are glad they are part of the club.
“Debate is a big commitment and a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. We end up having a lot of fun debating, especially when you get really into it,” Eliza ’15 said.
The Marlborough debaters compete in the same league as Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood, St. Paul’s, John Thomas Dye, Archer and Ridgecrest.
Schools like Brentwood offer debate as an elective course that takes up an entire class period. At Marlborough, however, the team has a free period in common but does not typically meet then.
“Ours is much more independent, but because we have to do a lot of work on our own, we get more out of it,” Emma said. “What you put in is what you get out.”
Rosi said she thinks debate is the best thing a student can do in Middle School to prepare for the demands of Upper School, college and life in general.
“You learn to think critically and on your feet,” she said. “You gain great public speaking skills and the ability to speak on the spot in front of other people.”