Members of the J.L. Crowe Secondary Grade 11 debate team (from the left) Jesse Bartsoff

Members of the J.L. Crowe Secondary Grade 11 debate team (from the left) Jesse Bartsoff

Judges needed to settle arguments

The B.C. High School Debate Championship will be hosted in Trail on March 1 and 2 and volunteers are still needed to act as judges.

You can be the judge of an argument with rules.

The B.C. High School Debate Championship will be hosted in Trail on March 1 and 2 and volunteers are still needed to judge the great discussions of youth in action.

“A lot of it is listening to the debate and recording your honest reaction,” said Marilyn Lunde, J.L. Crowe teacher librarian and regional coordinator for the Debate and Speech Association of B.C. (DSABC).

A total of 80 teams, in groups of two ranging from Grade 6 to Grade 12, from around the province will be in the Home of Champions for the Law Foundation Cup, which will be held at J.L. Crowe Secondary and St. Michael’s Elementary.

And while the students will come ready to debate, finding judges may be tougher to answer.

“A community spirit that likes to support the future of youth is most important,” said Lunde, describing the criteria for volunteer judges.

While experience is helpful, guidance will be provided to those who are new to the task.

On March 2, a judge’s workshop will be held that explains what to listen for, and how to score the debate, explained Lunde.

Typically, in a debate two teams are presented a resolution or topic that they will debate, and each team is given a set period of time to prepare an argument.

To win the debate, the student must be a clever thinker, and have a broad knowledge of current events, and be able to listen effectively, said Lunde.

At a debate, one team will argue in favour (pro) and the other will argue in opposition (con).

Sometimes each team member speaks, and sometimes the team selects one member to speak for the entire team.

“The best debaters are able to include the conversation of their opponent in their own discussion,” said Lunde. “Then turn the opposition’s arguments to their favour.”

The facts the students present must be accurate; use of words must be persuasive; and a conflict must exist between the points of view presented.

Topics will be both prepared and impromptu.

“The morning (March 2) will be cross examination style and the topic is ‘be it resolved that judges be elected,’” explained Lunde.

The students will not know their afternoon subjects ahead of time.

“We are given 15 minutes to organize our thoughts and deliver it in eight,” said Emily Dawson, member of the Grade 11 team.

The goal is to come up with a good argument in a short amount of time.

“The afternoon will be impromptu topics that focus on current events,” said Jesse Bartsoff, Grade 11 debater.

“Anything can be sprung on us,” he explained.

“It can include the senate, first nations rights and marijuana legalization, to name a few.”

Novice, junior and senior teams will be judged over four rounds of debates and winners will be recognized at the wind-up banquet and award ceremony at the Colombo Lodge on Saturday night.

“We welcome participation from the community to see these amazing young people develop their public speaking and critical thinking skills,” said Lunde.

For more information and to volunteer, contact Lunde by email ( or call 368-5591, ext. 226.

The DSABC is a non-profit, volunteer-led organization dedicated to teaching the skills of debate and speech in B.C.’s schools.

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