Joining a debate team is more about learning than it is about competing, but a Fruitvale teen can speak on both accounts.
Jesse Bartsoff, 16, recently placed 14 out of 56 students at the Sr. Canadian National Debate Seminar held in Toronto on Oct. 11-14.
Bartsoff joined the debate team at J. L. Crowe three years ago, and this fall he was one of 10 province-wide competitors to attend nationals.
“There were (students) from every province almost,” he said. “From B.C. there were 10 people and I was the only one outside of the lower mainland.”
But instead of hiring a private coach like many other competitors, Bartsoff relied solely on Crowe’s librarian Marilyn Lund and his independent studies.
Bartsoff joined the debate club in Grade 9 because he was interested in public speaking and learning about current events. Three years later, he’s considering getting into law or politics.
“I just kept going and I’ve (become) more interested,” Bartsoff said. “Most of (the club) went to provincials in March and from there I qualified to go to the National Seminar in Toronto.”
Bartsoff was an alternate until about three or four weeks ago when he was called to step up to the plate, according to Lund.
He was right in there,” she said. “He was so excited.
“Our kids don’t get private coaches like some of the other competitors, most of the time we’re holding bake sales to try to get to Kelowna for one event.”
She added that some students are “quite shy” when they start out and Bartsoff was actually one of those students.
“The first time he chaired in a tournament, he knew he wanted to do it,” Lund said. “You could just see that he wanted to jump in and contribute to the arguments and right after that he just grew in leaps and bounds.
“He got his feet wet in the first tournament then in each subsequent one—it was natural for him.”
Before nationals he studied with Mrs. Lund and learned as much as he could about the theme, which was based around urbanization. The national seminar in Toronto was impromptu, students got the topic and had a mere 15 minutes to prepare and then debate it.
But Bartsoff was confidant about how to prepare for the prestigious event.
“It comes down to getting your background knowledge, reading Maclean’s (magazine) and knowing all about the currents events because an impromptu can be anything and you just have to be prepared for whatever,” Bartsoff said. “In Toronto it was done in British Parliamentary style so it’s actually different from what we do around here.”
British Parliamentary hosts four teams with a government side and an opposition side, and each of those have a closing and an opening. That means four teams of two people …have to bring up their sides that counteract each other but then also have teams within teams.
“But around here we do CNDF which is the Canadian National format or cross formats so it’s a lot more direct,” he said. “There’s not a whole group of people.”
The Pumpkin Classic Debate will take place at Rossland Secondary School on Nov. 3. It begins at 9:30 a.m. and will have three rounds of inter-regional competitors between Grade 6 and 12.
For more information, contact Lund at 250-368-5591.