West speech and debate makes semi-finals

Advika Shah ‘22 and Brady Gromacki ‘21 spent Saturday locked in debates for an hour or more, until making it to the Semi-Final round.


Renee Gould

Advika Shah giving the first section of her debate in the semi-finals round on Oct. 19.

Walk into West High on Oct. 19 and you’ll be greeted by mostly vacant hallways with well-dressed students scattered around. People mutter to themselves as they await their turn to debate or give a speech. The occasional harried student will scurry down the halls, gripping a computer and papers, a black pen jammed behind an ear until they get to their classroom, inhale sharply, gathering themselves, before pushing the door open and walking in a neat, sharp clip that carries them inside, shoulders pressed back and head held high, as if they were walking into some vital interview. 

As you walk towards the cafeteria, the number of these impeccably dressed, incredibly focused people increases, and they circle together, discussing so quickly that the words seem to dissipate as soon as they leave their lips. The debaters mutter about judges, gossiping in the one way they know how. And once the new rounds are posted the gossip shifts to the other debaters. 

And then those groups will break off, becoming pairs, moving off to various rooms, meeting up with the opposing teams and muttering in quiet groups about arguments and points. The judge shows up and they are led into the room, taking their seats. And then the judge looks up, and a coin is flipped. The winner of said flip picks their side; aff. Or neg., which is shorthand for affirmative and negative. And then, the debate starts. 

Each debate takes around an hour, though the tension and intensely fast pace makes the time seem to blur together, the seconds eaten up by talks about foriegn policy or multiple other topics. But for now it’s foriegn policy. In November the topic will change and everyone will scramble to get both sides of the debate perfect. 

For now, the question is deceptively simple; should the European Union join The Belt and Road Initiative or not? But this question is far more loaded than it is at first glance. 

My favorite thing about speech and debate is meeting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. ”

— Advika Shah '22

Regardless of this, West High managed to make it to the semi-final rounds with Advika Shah ‘22 and Brady Gromacki ‘21 debating the negative after losing the coin flip. After approximately one hour and forty minutes the debate was finished and the three judges shared the results. Three for affirmative. 

After that, the final rounds lasted around three hours, and the West High team stayed to watch, taking note of the points that could be bettered in their own arguments, despite the fact that there are no more events until after the November topic change.