On Tuesday, October 29, a group of nine students from Centre Middle School kicked off a new tradition for their school by entering a competitive debate event sponsored by the Birmingham Area Debate League (or BADL pronounced Battle) held on the campus of Samford University.
In the BADL, teams of three competitors each face off and present oral arguments on a question of public importance. Each competitor on a team takes a turn speaking for her side, and the teams take turns asking one another questions and answering the other side’s questions. A judge decides which team presented the better arguments.
The proposition on Tuesday was “The United States federal government should prohibit the use of animals for entertainment purposes.” Each team had to argue twice: Once in support of this proposition and once in opposition to it.
The CMS Teams on Tuesday were:
Team 1: Maggie Amos, Kaylie Keith, Shae Stephens
Team 2: Kayleigh Hand, Reagan Maples, Kaitlyn Meats
Centre Middle School Debate Team #1 competed in the Birmingham Area Debate League on Tuesday, October 29. Team members Maggie Amos, Shae Stephens and Kaylie Keith are pictured on the campus of Samford University just before the competition.
Additional students also attended the event to watch and observed how the BADL debates are structured and learning to present a successful argument. These additional students will begin competing on BADL teams in November.
The coaches of the CMS Competitive Debate Teams are Gina Dowdy, Bill Hawkins, Laura Lloyd, Scott Lloyd, Anita Nation and Carol Oliphant. Centre Middle School principal Marcia Sewell and Cherokee County Superintendent of Education Mitchell Guice also have supported the efforts to start Debate Teams at CMS.
Debate Coach Scott Lloyd makes the following statement about the CMS Competitive Debate Teams entering their first competition: “Centre Middle School now competes in debate. Thanks go out to our competitors and all of the adults who have worked over the last few months to make this a reality.”
“Our competitors had never even watched a debate before, and they showed great spirit by jumping right into battle for CMS. The goal for the day was to learn how to debate and we passed that test with flying colors.”
Lloyd adds: “This started when I called Principal Sewell several months ago and asked if the middle school had a debate team my kids could participate in. She answered that the school didn’t have a debate team but that she would like for one to get started. She asked me if I would be willing to serve as a coach.
“I agreed that I would coach because I think these kids need this activity to be available, but I also knew right away that I couldn’t do it on my own. Fortunately, we were able to find five other folks who were willing to step up and get involved. These coaches all have given their time and worked hard to make this a reality and the kids have enjoyed their time with the Debate Teams. Anita Nation in particular has been a godsend for our program because she has coached a debate team before and she has worked harder than anybody to make this activity a reality for the school.”
There are four more BADL competitions this year.
Lloyd concludes, “We believe that by applying the knowledge we learned yesterday, our teams will have an excellent chance of success over the rest of the events. No matter how the competitions turn out, these kids are learning and growing, and that’s what this activity is about.”
Debate is a competitive event in which student’s research and present persuasive arguments on questions of public interest. Winners are chosen by neutral judges using fair criteria. Participants learn to speak publicly without fear. They learn to think critically and analytically. They also learn to understand the perspective of everyone involved in a discussion—and how to counter the arguments of their opponents. Finally, participants learn competition, sportsmanship and fair play—whether they are involved in athletics or not. The ultimate goal of debate is for the student to learn to be ethical citizens and leaders in a democracy.