Learn about Debate Club!

Evan Hirshorn, Je'Quan Sailes Irving, Maggie Rivas, Zion Richardson


If you like pizza, UNO and fighting people from other schools, you will love being a part of Whitney Young Debate. Despite being a highly academic club, debate kids know how to have fun. From sleepaway camps to dinner parties, these special students do it all.
In recent weeks, the Debate club students provided a look into the life through their event, Dinner With Debate. Although it is hard to recruit students willing to talk as fast as they can while standing for hours on end, the myriad of food and other rewards make it worth it. When the team isn’t chowing down on the amazing pizza, boxed meals, candy, and cookies offered at debate tournaments, the team is lucky to have their own personal vegan chef, Madison Sullivan of ‘17. Clearly, debate is doing something right because they recruited forty new members this year alone! Madison says the secret of recruiting is “our wild success” as a team. She also shows she has a way with words as she and her partner, Jared Flippen of ‘17, “took second and third best speaker at a recent tournament at Solario High School.” In an interview with Gloria Oladipo of ‘17, it’s evident that the wild success of Whitney Young debate doesn’t stop with top speaker awards… She says, “students have been entering elimination rounds regularly at each tournament. We have one team qualified for nationals as well as many teams qualified for the city championships. Debate is moving into the larger tournaments in Illinois and Minnesota, so we hope to do well there. We’re going into major fundraising pushes so students should look out for those too.”
If food, winning and traveling isn’t convincing enough, take into consideration how great debate looks on college applications, how nice it is to make lifelong friends and to improve upon your public speaking skills. And if you find that you have a niche for debating, it is something you can take to college with you! Plenty of former Whitney Young debaters have gone on to debate at prestigious universities such as the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Grinnell College and the University of Pittsburgh. However, the rewards don’t stop there for top debaters. They are not only getting to continue debating, they’re getting paid, too. There are cash prizes and scholarship opportunities for college debaters and even a few lucky senior debaters.
For those interested in joining, the award winning team meets every Thursday after-school under the supervision of the beloved Mr. Friedman. Although Mr. Friedman supervises, the club is unique in that it is almost completely student-run and also doubles as an eighth period course option for those looking to plan next year’s schedule.
If you’re worried about not being able to participate in other activities if you do debate, don’t be! Debate is understandably demanding of a student’s knowledge and time but many Whitney Young debaters engage in many other clubs and hobbies besides debate. Some popular activities among debaters include Soccer, Eco Club, Model United Nations and Chess Club! However, even with the varied and unique interests of the team outside of debate, debate is nonetheless still #life.
If you’re still not convinced, Keren Gekker of ‘18 has some words for you. She says, “debate has taught me more than any class has. It has provided me with a unique experience where I can research my interests, talk about them in a pressured environment, all while learning completely new perspectives about what I know. And what makes it so special is the community that it comes with – a bunch of smart and motivated kids who help each other out even though we are all competitors from across the country coming together to have intellectual and competitive discussions.”

(Photos courtesy of the Whitney Young Debate facebook page)