Students from Belvidere North are down in Bloomington for the IHSA Debate Tournament this week.
Being on the debate team requires students to research topics, prepare for the debate and practice public speaking.
The overall experience is designed to help students be better prepared for college.
Being a member of the Belvidere North Debate Team spurred Burke Cochran’s interest in international relations, so much so that he plans to continue his studies next year, in college.
“A lot of topics that we do are foreign policy based,” Cochran said. “So, most recently, we were debating about arms sales to Saudi Arabia and stuff like that…the two-state solution in Israel, so a lot of the things we do are really applicable to going into an international field.”
Senior Lauren Shelton is one of 15 students currently on the team. She says it has taught her skills that go beyond the classroom.
“This has really been the driving force in deciding my major,” she said. “And, I’m hoping to eventually go into law school. This has just given me so much background information on so many topics.”
Students get that background information by doing research on the seleted debate topics. They’re then responsible for writing their arguments.
“I think it’s a great experience,” said Jonathon Giesecke, a Belvidere North student. “You take a ton from it. You become a better writer, overall a more articulate person and you learn so much from the team.”
Students participate in two to three tournaments a month, from September through March.
For some, the state tournament will be their last as high school students. Head Debate Coach Nicole Kroepel says she hopes they enjoy the experience.
“More than the trophies for the placing, it’s more about having a good time,” Kroepel said. “And for the seniors especially, just enjoying that last experience for some of them so that they’re happy with how they did and it’s a good end to their season, no matter how they do.”
Some members of the team have qualified for national tournaments that will continue into Spring.