HLS Debate Team Success


If you were asked, “Should the U.S. government value rehabilitation over retribution in the Criminal Justice System?” how would you respond? Once you comprehended the question, would you be able to then respond with a clear and logical argument? Could you defend your answer, too?

On January 19, the HLS Debate team competed in the Kentucky State Debate Tournament. HLS’s team participated in the Lincoln-Douglas style policy debate: one-on-one debates against students from other schools.The topic of the debate was the question posed above, however students did not know which side they would be asked to argue until a few minutes before they began. HLS’s strongest competition was Dupont Manual High School, a team of over 30 members. In a tournament the scores are calculated by adding the top eight individual scores per team. The team with the highest total wins. Score points are awarded based on how a student presents his or her case, the quality of the argument, style, delivery, and various other factors throughout the debate rounds. The HLS team composed of a mere seven students, lost first place to Manual by a single point.

The HLS team spent weeks preparing for the event by discussing and brainstorming ideas for their case, practicing debating each other, and receiving valuable critiques from their new coach, Mr. Aaron Whaley. Mr. Whaley, an HLS parent and practicing attorney, debated in high school and continued into college, participating in WKU debate, where his team won the National Forensic League Lincoln-Douglass debate his senior year. Mr. Whaley graduated from UK Law School in 2002 where he was also on the debate team which competed in the national tournament.

The HLS team attributes their success to Coach Whaley and to each other.

“We really are like a family” stated Junior, Rebecca Musal.  The rest of the members followed suit, explaining that though debate is an individual-based competition, they rely on each other. Despite their novice disposition, the HLS team has found itself victorious over teams that have competed at the national level. They are even looking to expand their practices into national policy debate, as well as continuing their current Lincoln-Douglass policy debates.

The HLS debate team is open to 9th-12th grade students. Given their recent incredible success, a few more members would help the team accomplish even greater feats.  The HLS community is proud of the team’s success, and eager to see what new challenges these determined students will overcome.