The deliberation of debate

The deliberation of debate

In the 2023-2024 school year North High created a debate team to compete against other students over the winter sports timeline. Although it is not necessarily a sport, it is also not a club because it is sanctioned by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA).  

The last time North High had a debate team was three years ago. A debate is a formal discussion over a particular topic. In a way, it’s like arguing but in a healthy manner since both sides take the time to listen to each other and pick apart each other’s statements. 

 According to, it’s common for high schools and colleges to have debate teams since they challenge you in ways that are good to exercise for everyday life.  

 The team this year is run by Timothy White, a Specialized Instruction teacher here at North. White ignited the team after a teacher conference in Atlanta during summer break.  

“One of the sessions I attended was about the power of speech, debate and how it could help improve reading comprehension skills, research skills, along with public thinking skills and critical thinking skills,” White said. “And so, I was Immediately motivated and inspired by that breakout session and I came back to Omaha North and realized that we haven’t had one for quite some time.” 

There are nine members on the debate team, and many of them take pride in being a part of the team. Aakancha Rai, 9, Anastasia Mizzell, 11, Nyan Aung, 11 and, Leo Preheim, 11, each enjoy the research and challenges that come with debating. 

For Rai’s first year of high school and debate she says that she is relatively good at what she does.  

“I joined the debate team because I wanted to improve my word choices, speak more fluently, and have a sharper mind to answer questions,” Rai said. “Even though I don’t make the most speeches (out of the team) however when I do I put a lot of sources and information in it, and I think they’re solid arguments.” 

Mizzell has yet to compete but still has an incredible mindset when it comes to the matter. She’s interested in research and took joining as an opportunity to learn more about the debating world.  

“Arguing and debating are not the same thing at all. Arguing can be a lot more manipulative but debating must be factual at a certain point so you actually have to know things (about your topic) for debate unlike arguing you can just go with the vibe,” Mizzell said. 

Aung and Preheim are intimidatingly serious when it comes to speech and debate.  

“I feel like speech and debate is something that’s fundamental in after school activities in high school because most high schools have speech and debate” Aung said.  

Preheim joined the debate team because he likes arguing and knew a lot of people who were doing it. 

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity for anyone who likes to fight people verbally.” Preheim said.  

Preheim is serious about debate as he has already won a medal of sixth place at one of the competitions against twenty people.  

 Debate teams are quite common and useful to use in the long run. For highschoolers, the ability to debate can be an impactful skill, debate skills could be used when someone is trying to prove their point to another in a social situation, and it can also build confidence allowing to think out personal thoughts before saying things that weren’t meant to be said according to   

Since North has not had a debate team in a while, everyone is new to the experience, including the coach himself.  

“I don’t know much about debate in the formal sense, this has been a journey of learning myself along with the students on the team…I’ve been formally studying since I came back from Atlanta,” White said. 

Which is why White has a mentor, the same person who led the speech and debate session back in Atlanta. He is being taught by Donald Broussard Jr., an Educator, Mentor, Consultant, Leader, HBCU (Historically Black College and University) Advocate & Doctoral Candidate. Broussard is considered a “Two-Time Diamond coach” White explained because he was in the speech and debate world for at least 20 years. He also produced as team that won the national championship last year in 2022 for debate.  

As for the students, they all feel rather the same about being on a brand-new team. 

Ashley Phipps

“It’s an adjustment since there’s stuff that we don’t know and we’re learning as we go so in a way it’s like a guinea pig type situation, but I think next year we will be a lot more prepared” Mizzell said.  

It’s common for new clubs, sports, and activities at school to go through the guineanpig stage, it wouldn’t be school without it. Everyone has to be a school test subject once in their life. 

“I feel pretty good about it. I feel like if I master debating, I can teach the newcomers next year, so it feels good” Rai said.  

Passing down the torch has been a North High standard for an eon. That is how  hey keep the school together and keep strong traditions going. 

“ I feel like there is a lot to learn but I feel like we if push through the hurdles we’re going through right now, and force ourselves to learn and grow from experiences from the tournaments and competitions we go to, and ask a lot of questions and be as open minded as possible to learning and making mistakes I think we’re going to have a great foundation for not only the kids after me” Aung says.  

According to, building a stable foundation is a great way to start many things. Having a positive attitude, asking questions and thinking optimistically like most of the team does cause great success. 

“I wish there were more people there, I think we have a couple of people who are just doing it for fun, nothing against them, I hope next year at least we can get some more members who are really committed. It’s fun that we’re learning as we go; I like Mr. White a lot. I don’t mind it being the first year.” Preheim says. 

The debate team’s first tournament was on November 18th against eight different schools at Millard North. It was a “hiccup” as White explained. 

“We’re all learning, the students are learning, and I’m learning.” White said. 

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Ashley Phipps
Ashley Phipps, Opinion and Entertainment Writer

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