Debate members advance to state

Athena Stamos

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Seven members of the debate team are preparing for the state tournament which they qualified for on March 4.

“Quite honestly, I was not expecting to qualify to state but during our rounds everything went right,” junior and second-time qualifier Shaunak Mailarpwar said.

The seven members include senior Kayla Benjamin, junior Abby Flynn, senior Jennifer Heiman, senior Ariella Mahoney, junior Shaunak Mailarpwar, junior Emily Pfau and senior Maddy Scannell. Not only did seven members qualify, but Heiman and Scannell, seniors and fourth-year participants of the debate team qualified for state three times in a row in previous years. Also, Flynn and Mahoney both qualified in Duo Interpretation together and they also both qualified in Policy and Dramatic Interpretation, respectively.


Scannell and Heiman, with Proffitt, placed first in Public Forum at Districts. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Heiman.

“It was very exciting; we put in a lot of work,” Heiman said. “We put more work in this topic by far. And to see this all pay off, it was very emotional for me.”

Even though excitement comes with achieving a goal in debate, to reach that goal many members are put into a lot of stressful situations.


Senior Kayla Benjmain, junior Emily Pfau, senior Jennifer Heiman, senior Maddy Scannell, coach Robert Proffitt, junior Abby Flynn, junior Shaunak Mailarpwar and senior Ariella Mahoney qualify for the State debate tournament on March 4.

“The worst time is right before you go into a round and you know if that team is really good– that is probably the worst feeling,” junior and second-time qualifier Flynn said. “The build-up is horrendous, and at the end you’re finally free.”

In order to prepare for Districts, Scannell and Heiman would read everything and take pieces of evidence from their research — a total of 125 pages. This process is known as “cutting cards.” As stressful of a process as this is, the girls acknowledge that it is easier to do as partners.

“The good thing about this year is having close friend to relax a little bit and have fun with,” Scannell said.

Pfau, junior and second-time qualifier said that she has a better understanding of society and the different problems that Americans face as a result of joining debate.

“Most debaters are like-minded, but it is a great environment to discuss and openly talk about opposing viewpoints,” Pfau said.

To Heiman, that is the most enjoyable part of debate.

“Almost every topic I’ve come out with a less strong idea to believe,” Heiman said. “You lose your own personal opinion so you’re unsure what you believe because you see the evidence so clearly.”

Mailarpwar agrees.

“I have formulated new opinions on topics that I learn about which makes me have a different perspective in the world,” Mailarpwar said.

In preparation for State, the qualifying members will be working primarily on their speaking and presentation, according to speech and debate coach Rob Proffitt, who has been coaching for 11 years.

The State tournament is on April 21-22 in Springfield, Mo.


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Debate members advance to state