Sunday, July 15, 2007

High School & Middle School Programs in Full Swing

The Royall Tyler Theatre (above) is the home of the WDI

Saturday was the first day of the World Debate Institutes's first two program - Middle School Public Debate and High School Policy Debate.

After morning welcoming and orientation assembly the real work of the program began.

Middle school students were introduced to the concept of debate by Greg Paulk, teacher at Desert Springs School in Palm Springs, California, and a six-time national champion middle school coach. The students took to it eagerly. After lunch they got some additional orientation and then started getting ready for their first debate. That's right, they have their first debate on day one. The topic was that cell phone use should be allowed in school. I was lucky enough to judge one of these debates and it was a great experience. The students were very verbal, had good arguments and supported them well with examples. They were still a little new at concepts like points of information, note-taking and such, but it was an excellent way for them to finish day one. They had some evening activities back at the dorm with WDI team member Mikyung Kwon. Sunday should be another exciting day, but with a practice debate they will do twice.

The high school students got right into the topic, that the United States should substantially increase public health assistance to sub-Saharan Africa. After their orientation thy took an assessment test to determine placement. There was a short break and then Gordie Miller of the University of Rochester gave the opening topic lecture. Gordie has been an extremely successful coach at a number of school, and is now at the University of Rochester. He has national championships and a top speaker at varsity CEDA nationals as part of his record.

<== Jackie Massey in his college coaching mode

After lunch Gordie was followed by Jackie Massey for the second and third parts of the topic lecture. Jackie Massey is currently he director of debate at the University of Oklahoma. Although he has been successful everywhere he has coached, his work at creating a new program at Oklahoma has been exemplary. His team won Harvard, Wake Forest and Northwestern and then won CEDA Nationals over Dartmouth 11-4, capping an undefeated tournament. His tam then placed third at the NDT. Jackie has a unique way of sharing information, and the students enjoyed his presentations for their clarity and candor. All three of the topic lectures will soon be available at various websites. We will let you know.

After a short break there was a final lecture of the day. The new debaters heard a "what is debate" lecture from Jackie Massey while the experienced debaters heard from Jillian Marty on how to take the "next step" as a debater who wants to succeed. Jillian has her debate roots in the Big Apple with the New York Urban Debate League, and hen sh attended the University of Vermont where she was squad president for four years. She won the JV national title and also advanced to the elimination rounds at varsity nationals as well as winning a number of tournaments. She received a masters degree from the University of Alabama on a fellowship, and is now a doctoral student on a fellowship to study speech communication at the University of Massachusetts. She is a dynamic and direct communicator.

After the diner break the students returned for the evening activities. These involved a "partner social" where students talk to each other, meet new people, and then choose a debate partner. They meet with me (Alfred Snider) and Jillian to convince us that they should be a team, and then if they convince us they receive their first evidence set and are assigned to a skills and research lab. The next evidence set comes out Sunday afternoon, with their first practice debates on Sunday evening at 7 PM. They then went to their skills and research groups to get oriented to these regular groups.

Sunday morning everyone has some time off, and we start again at 1:30 PM this afternoon. Things seem to be getting off to a good start!

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