Tagged: debate

My Debate Career Is Over

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I started debate in 8th grade, but my mom was actually the one who pushed me to join. I wanted to quit before freshman year but I was convinced by one of my friends to stay a little longer; ironically, she quit before her sophomore year, but I’m still here.

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When you’re approaching the end of your high school debate career…

giffffFor the longest time, I practiced tennis year-round, with private lessons and tournaments on the weekends. When I was in middle school, I tried out for our school’s tennis team, twice. Not once did I make it. I have long since quit not just tennis, but sports in general.

From the start of sixth grade to my junior year in high school, I tried out for All-State, a state-wide violin competition. Every summer, I dedicated my practices to scales, etudes, and one solo piece that I painstakingly perfected for months. I went to private lessons, but I never got past the second round of auditions.

Of course, I played in other out-of-school orchestras, but I eventually stopped trying for All-State, collapsing down to my school’s orchestra, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I know that around this time of year, many debaters will be nearing the end of their high school career. We’re all different; some of us want to finish the semester strong and go out with a bang, and some have already fizzled out of the activity. Continue reading

This Kid I Know: Marc

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Oh Marc! I can’t believe he’s turning 19 today, while I have yet to turn 18. He certainly has the capacity to act his age, though I would dispute the claim that he always acts it.

Like most guys I know, he’s changed a great deal since I first met him in maybe 6th grade. His face has filled in but simultaneously hollowed out. His voice has certainly gotten deeper, and yet there are still the best aspects of young Marc peeking through. Continue reading

My Weekend in Chicago – A Saga

Yummy breakfast with one of my favorite people, on a chill morning. 

Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time; for the past few days, I’ve been in Illinois for a variety of debate tournaments, and today we are going to talk about my experience there.

First, I went to a tournament where I did not have to debate, which was totally unprecedented. I rarely go to tournaments without the intention of spending 8+ hours everyday immersed in technical and high speed debates. This time, I was along for the ride of a bunch of debaters to help coach younger kids and judge novice debates.

It was a great experience because this was a huge tournament; thus, many of my friends around the country were attending, but I didn’t have anxiety because I didn’t have to debate! I got to hang out with a bunch of my greatest friends. I also had the opportunity to sit in on very high quality debates, which helped me prepare for a separate tournament that I was going to further in the week (I’ll get to that later).

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My Top 7 Most Viewed Blog Posts, and My Hypotheses for Why

Preview for an upcoming post? Here it is!

Preview for an upcoming post? Here it is!

7. Just Curious…

This one is popular because it’s short and funny! There’s a picture of a cute duck, and most of the viewers found this through a writing challenge that I did online, in which I left a link back to my blog. Not much more to say about this post, there’s not really an underlying meaning, except I suppose to question the legitimacy of eggs, but I don’t mind eating eggs and I’m not really disgusted about where it comes from, but hey, that’s just me.

6. Guest Post: The Answer

This guest post finally addresses one of the biggest themes that blogs rant about, that I have yet to acknowledge: love. Specifically, teenage love. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it because I know I’ll get lots of questions and pesterings from the people that know me personally, so I suppose for now the only time you’ll hear about love on this blog is when anonymous people submit their writing to me. Perhaps later, I’ll feel confident enough to state my opinion on teenage love, but for now, I think I’ll refrain from it.

5. Everyone Should Write

This post is popular because I advertise it a lot. I slip it into a lot of other posts whenever writing is relevant, and that’s one of the best methods to get more hits on your blog. I think my teachers probably appreciate this one the most because it shows that I’ve learned something from my eleven years of English class. I made this one general and applicable to anyone on purpose; I knew people would be able to relate to it, and I guess that shows, through the amount of times it has been read.

4. This Kid I Know: Holmes

I know why this one is so popular. For starters, it is the first “This Kid I Know” post I wrote, so no one was expecting me to be so straight up about the people that I know and respect. Secondly, I posted this on his Facebook wall on his birthday, so that definitely generated a lot of views. Perhaps Holmes liked the post so much that he shared it with a lot of friends? I haven’t asked, so I guess I’ll never know for sure. The post was short, sweet, and to the point. I know that high school kids definitely appreciate this kind of post. And they’re eager to find out who exactly this Holmes kid is. (He’s world-famous, by the way.)

3. Welcome To My Closet

Perhaps this one was pretty popular because I wrote it in a different style than I normally do. It was unconventional for me; it was more of a shot at creative writing. I wanted to test and exercise the way I could depict details, so that the reader could imagine themselves in my closet through my words. This post was a work in progress for MONTHS but one night I finally finished it after sitting in my closet for an hour or two, rifling through my special box.

2. What You Need to Know.

I’m genuinely surprised that this wasn’t #1! Whenever I find new blogs, I always look at their About page to find out whether or not we have anything in common, and whether or not I think I’d be interested in reading their blog. An About page is basically a mini autobiography in which the writer can write anything they want, in whatever form they want to. This is their moment to hook in potential loyal followers by preaching to them what exactly it is that they write about, and why exactly the follower should make like a follower, and…follow. I edit this page a lot because I always want to get the best message across to people who stumble upon my blog.

1. What it Means to Debate

I suppose this one has been the most popular because I posted the links on my Gchat account, and on my Facebook page, and a great portion of my friends on both social networking sites ARE debaters, so when they saw a post about something that was relevant to them, they just had to read it. This post was one of the first I had planned to write, but I didn’t get around to actually writing it until a few weeks later. At that point, we were a little ways into the debate season, and so I would be able to pull examples and concepts from the tournaments that I’d gone to for inspiration to write about in my post, as well as the seven weeks of debate camp I also attended over the summer. I think this post was popular because it’s policy debate is something that I genuinely care about, but also because debaters have a tendency to link things to each other in a flash, so perhaps it traveled quickly?

Post inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge at Daily Post, here. 

Welcome to the Squad Room.

The ultimate squad room.

The ultimate squad room. Picture from here.

When I was in junior high, I heard from my cousin (who had many debater friends) about the high school debaters that all went to the “squad room” during their free time to do work and chill and hang out and make friends. Wow, was that a misnomer. All my junior high life I had imagined the “squad room” to be a room with padded walls and cushioned floors, sort of like a wrestling room. I expected there to be tubs of evidence in neatly organized files being highlighted with actual highlighters. But I was young, and times have changed since then. I was wrong.

The squad room at our school is located near the edge of campus, in a basement of a building infamous for its strange odor. But I found that after visiting the squad room a couple of times, I was able to overcome the stench of who-knows-what. There are a couple of couches, tables and chairs to sit on, enticing you to sit and talk to your friends. Awards from previous tournaments hang on the wall, as if to remind us that we are currently occupying the space of past debaters that have long moved onto college, champions of big tournaments that set examples for younger members of the squad. Glancing at the walls will send you a subtler signal that there’s always a reason to continue working hard.

A whiteboard with a single purple Expo marker hangs on the wall, filled with all sorts of messages, whether from the debaters ourselves, or from the friendly, spirited teacher who goes around to every classroom, writing positive quotes in a quote bubble in the corner of every whiteboard.

Furthermore, it’s more or less a no-judging zone, or a safe haven, of sorts. Sure, we’re not all best friends that hold prayer sessions for each other and we don’t all share common interests and beliefs, but that just makes us more diverse and interesting altogether. We can talk about the activity that we all love without the judging eyes of our peers (that assume that debate is merely conversing about Congress) boring into the back of our heads. We’ve all been exposed to radical, philosophical literature, so we’re less likely to arbitrarily assume. It’s like in the Perks of Being a Wallflower, when Charlie and friends go to Bob’s place to be who they actually are, to express their true nature. Perhaps I’m overstating the effect of such a setting to have on a group of people, but I still like to think optimistically about our “dwelling.”

It’s not perfect. As previously mentioned, it sometimes smells weird. Lots of people don’t clean up after themselves; there’s often sticky juice on the floor and crumbs on the tables, and loose-leaf paper and textbooks everywhere, but I don’t really mind it that much. Of course, people don’t always get along and drama happens, but in general, we’re a well-functioning unit. Congregations in the squad room represent “the mixing of all grades for the pursuit of a common goal,” as a friend has so eloquently described. Wonderful relationships are formed between seniors and freshmen, between juniors and sophomores, as help and advice on topics not entirely limited to debate is exchanged.

Practice debates take place; this is the setting where people can improve their debating skills the most. Here, there is interaction between people of all levels. Information is transferred between the students themselves, which I find to be one of the best communicative aspects of the activity.

Sometimes, I will walk down the hall where the squad room is located and hear the music from three classrooms away. We were fortunate enough that someone had left a pair of good quality speakers in our humble sanctuary. Frequently, Kanye’s “Mercy” blares out of the room and annoys the class next door, but most times, we’re undisturbed, surrounded by the booms of the deep, resonating bass.

But this post is not just about our squad room. It’s not solely about the squad rooms in other debate schools either. We all have a squad room of our own. For whatever extracurricular or hobby that we enjoy, there’s a place where people with similar interests can gather and express their appreciation for said extracurricular or hobby. In my experience, I find the squad room at our school to be an overall wonderful place to make friends and learn random things. I can listen to strange, unfamiliar music or just do homework in a free period. I can watch Youtube videos and read blog posts, and I can ask questions and check up on people that I would normally not see during the day.

Do you have an abode, or a sanctuary where you can hang out with people with shared interests? Let me know! :)

Thanks to a friend for the writing prompt!