By: Lorien Touponse
“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger.” These words spoken by Nelson Mandela illuminate the reason why we debate. The Debate Team is a club at Wethersfield High School that teaches and develops public speaking, curiosity, organization, leadership, and so much more.
Mr. Pryor has been the WHS Debate coach for six years and absolutely loves it. He enjoys watching the students engage with one another. “I work with a fine group of young men and ladies. They want more than just what the classroom offers.”
Students commit their time and minds to this club. Usually they will spend one or two afternoons, during the week, discussing what they can continue to improve on and they ask questions. They also spend one full Saturday every month debating at another school. Mr. Pryor says, “They don’t get paid and they don’t get extra credit, but they do get the satisfaction of being part of an intellectual community to share ideas and to discuss major issues of the world today, in a civil environment.”
He also explains that this club does so much more for you than you might think. It is a good extra curricular activity to have on your college resumes, and it is also a great way to improve public speaking skills and ability to lead with an open mind. But beyond that, it instills values in students. “Never give in and never limit yourself. I think that is one thing that debate really helps young people realize and understand. The core values of debate are curiosity, courtesy, organization, and collegiality,” says Mr. Pryor.
According to Mr. Pryor, there are some common misconceptions that go along with debate, such as the idea that everyone in debate is a “geek”. But Mr. Pryor says that it couldn’t be further from the truth. “This year we seem to have more athletes on our team than anything.” Mr. Pryor encourages all to join because, “You never want to look back and say, ‘I wish I had …’.” Debate Team is a fantastic club filled with fantastic people and those who join get a lot out of it. Their next meeting is Tuesday, February 13, and their next debate is Saturday, March 3. If you are interested, come to the next meeting or email Mr. Pryor with any questions using firstname.lastname@example.org.