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Great Bend Debaters place third at Cougar Classic
GBHS Debate
Great Bend debaters pictured are, from left: Hazel Stoddard, Adeline Dougherty, Katria Kindscher and Thomas Hendrickson. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

This past weekend the Panther debaters continued their successful virtual debate season in an 18-school, online competition sponsored by Salina South.

GBHS sophomores Adeline Dougherty and Katria Kindscher placed third in the Junior Varsity division. They were victorious over Topeka Seaman, Rock Creek and Maize. They were seated in first place going into the last round. However, they lost to a team from Lansing in the final round and fell to third place. Dougherty was named fifth-place speaker and Kindscher finished fourth-place speaker overall.

Freshmen Thomas Henrikson and Hazel Stoddard improved their win-loss record in the novice division. They lost their affirmative rounds to Topeka Hayden and Bishop Seabury Academy but won both of their negative rounds against Wichita Northwest and Topeka Seaman.

GBHS Debate Coach Kim Heath said she was “thrilled with the growth that the freshmen demonstrated both in their confidence level and in their understanding of the issues.”

At an online competition jointly hosted by Lyons and Sterling high schools on Oct. 10, three novice teams from Great Bend entered the 48-team tournament from 33 different schools. GBHS debaters finished with four wins and nine losses for the day. 

Milena Carbajal and Olivia Roberson beat Sterling and Buhler but lost to McPherson and Dodge City. Sophomores Drexler Gardner and Deiago Rodriguez were victorious over Hoisington and Rock Creek but lost to teams from Lansing and Blue Valley Northwest. Both of these teams won all of their affirmative rounds where they argued a need for criminal justice reform. The teams’ weakness was on the negative side of the question. 

“We will be focusing in class on developing our refutation skills and speaking in opposition to changing our current criminal justice system,” Heath said. “Hopefully, as the students get more practice, they will better be able to address both sides of the question.”

Henrikson and Stoddard also debated at the Lyons/Sterling tournament. They lost to Pittsburg, Lansing and to two different Blue Valley Northwest debate teams.   

One of the perks of online debate competition is that the GBHS team is getting to meet a wider variety of debaters from different locations in the state, Heath said.

“In any given round, it is just as likely to face a team from Hoisington or McPherson as it is to go against a school from Blue Valley. Our students are seeing different styles and learning a wider variety of skills and argumentation strategies from their peers during the tournaments.

“This is very critical to our learning because of the lack of senior leadership on our squad. Our young novices are seeing a great deal of diversity and different ways to be successful in debate,” she continued.

Heath said one of the downsides of a virtual debate is it means a lack of face-to-face communication.  

“The students are missing the casual connections and friendships that they build on the circuit. I am missing the face-to-face coaching that happens on the way to and from tournaments,” she said. “It is wonderful that the activity is continuing, but I am sure that everyone will be ready to head back to in-person debating as soon as it is safe to do so. Debating is persuasive communication that is hard to do over little boxes on a computer screen.”

Next up for the Panther Debate squad are tournaments hosted by Lansing and Spring Hill