It’s a Team, Not a Club: Debate and forensics students voice their opinions about the representation of their teams


River Ball

Members of last year’s forensics squad prep for one of their first tournaments.

River Ball, Contributor

The debate and forensics students walk out into the brisk, cool air with their backpacks full of gear for a full day of competition. The white bus looms like a giant in the distance ready to take them to an East Kansas school to win. 

Debate and forensics, despite many misconceptions, are two different classes with all types of students: theater, band and choir kids, National Merit Scholars and even athletes. However, many members of the teams think the squad is misrepresented.

Junior Sally Panis will be a second-year forensics team member in second semester, and she placed fifthth in 0ral 0interpretation of poetry at the 4A state forensics competition last spring. Panis plans to do the same this year. She would like some more recognition, though.

“I kind of laugh because they take so much pride in talking about our accomplishments, but yet they misrepresent us every time we are brought up and they usually don’t talk about us a lot,” Panis said. 

Panis also feels like her work and accomplishments are not appreciated, despite the fact that she is a state medalist.

“I would say that as a state medalist, from my experience, I have not felt very appreciated or recognized at the school because our department’s not really taken seriously,” Panis said. 

Junior Alex Haggerty is a third-year debate team member and will be a second-year forensics team member in second semester. Haggerty explained that he puts in numerous amounts of effort and feels the school does not do enough for the team.

“I think we definitely, definitely deserve more recognition because you know, we put in just as much if not more work and more time than even sports that practice every day,” Haggerty said.

According to Haggerty, he is much more inept at debate than forensics, but still believes that both squads are much more than a club or activity.

“It’s definitely a team but part of it is more than that because teams are exclusively outside of school right?” Haggerty said. “Teams don’t happen during school hours. Well, debate and forensics do so it’s more than that.”

Senior Daniel Larson has been a member of both debate and forensics for all four years. He is a state forensics medalist, a state debate champ and attended the National Forensics Tournament this past summer. Larson highlights how “extracurricular” the classes are.

“But with debate and forensics, every weekend, typically, we are out competing in events around the state,” Larson said. “So it doesn’t really fit the bill as a club or an activity.”

Overall, Larson agrees that the debate and forensics team deserves some more recognition when it comes to representing them as much more than a club. 

“But I think maybe specifying a little that we are doing stuff outside of school and maybe as like, you know, more of a team, I think would be good,” Larson said.

Larson explained that debate and forensics are much more than activities because students learn so much new information and spend time in and outside of class applying it to real-world problems.

“I like the community,” Larson said. “It’s a lot of like minded people that are all kind of weird in the same way. I just have a lot of fun. With debate, I’ve learned a lot more about a variety of different issues.”

Panis also thinks that forensics has taught her more about topics she is interested in and made her a better actress. 

“I would say it allows me to share a more personal side of myself through poetry, which I absolutely love,” Panis said. “Also some of the scripts that I’ve acted with have been kind of outside of my comfort zone and push me to try new characters.”