“You think we’re nerds, but we’re not,” said debate team member Ivy Gildea (9). The debate team at Portage Northern High School certainly does not match the stereotypes given to debate teams around the nation. Let’s face it, nobody is sprinting to join the debate team after school, actually most students wouldn’t know the debate team even existed if they didn’t hear Brenda Marsh talking about it every once in a while on the announcements. Portage Northern Students don’t know what they are missing out on with this successful and dynamic group of people.
“We like arguing,” said Shakhlo Aminova (11). They are good at it too: nobody could miss the trophies lining the windows in Mrs. Herbert’s room. But, did you know that they belonged to the debate team? “We are the top debate program in the state,” said Nirvisha Singh (10). The debate team continuously wins varsity and junior varsity level competitions (statistics). These achievements don’t come without hard work though; these debaters are staying after school every day from 3pm to 5pm every night to prepare for their tournaments, which is the equivalent amount of time that most school sports practice.
“I joined debate because it helps with public speaking and college applications,” said Jose Rodriguez (12). The debate team is unique to Portage Northern because it is, along with drama, one of the only extra-curricular activities that will help with the life skill of public speaking that will not only help during speeches in English class now, but also be beneficial later in life. “I like it because it is a good competitive sport,” said Singh, “it’s also a good strategy and helps you learn.” For those of us that can’t kick a baseball or throw a soccer ball to save our life, debate is an alternative for healthy competition while also enhancing our education. “Plus it counts for so many CAS hours,” said Nikki Pachika (11).
“Most people asked if they can do debate, don’t think they will do well,” said Aminova. The debate team is a welcoming, tight knit group of people. As soon as you step into a practice after school, they will welcome you with their silly and energetic environment. “It is less scary than you think,” said Gildea.
The debate team here at Portage Northern does not fit the stereotypical vision of a debate team. Their quirky personalities combined with hard work has allowed for extreme success while also maintaining a fun aura. These competitors deserve the proper recognition and are certainly a lot more than “just nerds.”