Published : Monday, January 20, 2020 | 1:41 PM
On Tuesday, January 14th, seventh and eighth graders settled into Room 10 to witness the students of Mrs. Gangl’s debate class argue a topical issue: the repeal of the death penalty.
The proposition team argued for the repeal: Tyler B., David D., and Ray C.. Arguing for the opposition team were Ben L., Sav F-M., and Zach C.. The thirty-minute debate followed an orderly structure, but the debate itself was lively, engaging, and entertaining.
The first speaker from each team stated his team’s assertions (with the opposition team refuting points from the proposition’s argument). The second and third speakers from each team refuted the previous speaker’s points and then elaborated on their own team’s arguments. In addition to these opportunities to assert their claims, there were other impromptu opportunities to make arguments, namely P.O.I’s and heckles.
P.O.I. stands for Point of Information: during a speaker’s turn, students from the opposing team may ask for permission to interrupt and assert a point of contention. The speaker either allows for the P.O.I or denies it with a polite, “No, thank you.” The heckling is arguably the most entertaining part of the debate. Members of the opposite team are allowed to interject concise “heckles” (fewer than three words) while the opponent speaks, as long as the statement is an intentional advancement of the heckler’s argument. There were some memorable heckles, but the favorite was Ben Lee’s response to his opponent’s rhetorical question about how he would feel if he were the one experiencing a lethal injection. Ben’s response? “Pretty painless.”
It was a spirited debate with valid points from each side. In the end, however, there was only one winner. The student judges and audience agreed: the win went to the proposition team!
Overall, it was a great opportunity to hear opposing and well-researched viewpoints of a relevant issue. Even more important, it was a chance for the junior-high students and faculty to support one another. Kudos to Mrs. Gangl and her debate class. If I were to rate our experience watching the debate, I think we would all agree: it was “pretty painless”!
High Point Academy, 1720 Kinneloa Canyon Road, Pasadena, (626) 798-8989 or visit www.highpointacademy.org.