ELLINWOOD — Over the years, the Ellinwood High School debate and forensics teams have achieved great success, and the students give credit to coach Julie-Ann Jacobs and hard work. The students involved begin work in the summer, attending a workshop and spending many hours researching their topics.
The result has been, not only do the students feel more professional in meeting people, they have learned a lot about current events and public speaking. Social skills have also improved as they have learned to respond to the judges.
"People have different viewpoints," said one student. "What is the judge looking for?" The students have also discerned that judges from the northeast part of the state tend to be more liberal, while judges from central Kansas are more conservative."
"You have to see things from every angle," said Hannah Maddy, sophomore.
Senior Carli Newkirk said, "You learn a lot of issues (current events) we wouldn’t have learned in school."
"Debate has historically been very strong (at EHS). We have a great teacher," said Connor Birzer, sophomore. "She knows it so well and does a lot of research. She has had many years of coaching experience.
"You learn to confront people in a calm manner," said Birzer. The students have also learned to asses people according to dress and age.
"It’s going to help you in the future," he said. "It will help you with a job and getting scholarships."
All of the students wanted to encourage more kids to join.
"You have to work hard," Birzer said, "You have to have determination and be more open to stuff."
The team consists of two seniors and three sophomores. The seniors have participated in debate all four years and will be doing debate in college. Montara Johansen was awarded an $1800 scholarship.
Debate and forensics has two key elements. Debate focuses on a topic with a positive and negative side. Forensics involves interpretation of a piece out of a book.
"Our goal for the year, as it often is, was to have all of our varsity team members qualify for state," said Coach Julie-Ann Jacobs. "I am pleased that these students were able to easily reach this goal. The debate topic for us this year proved challenging, and we had some very formidable competition at our state tournament. I am excited for these sophomores to come back with not one but two more chances to make a state appearance."
"For now, these five students are busy working on their forensics events, as that season starts in just a little over a week," said Jacobs. "We’ll return several state forensics semi-finalists including Hannah, Jenna, Connor, and a state medalist Montara from this group of varsity debaters."
Jacobs reported that as far as general stats from the year, they earned medals at meets at Lyons, Sterling, Haven, Dodge City, and Cheney.
"It’s kind of hard to figure win-loss stats for the year since people debated with several different partners, but each of these five basically had about a 60 percent win-loss record," she said.
To qualify for state, students have to have higher than 50 percent, along with some other specific qualifications, to qualify for the state two-speaker category.
Jacobs is assisted by Angela Peterson.