"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate." - Hubert H. Humphrey

PurposeThe Debate Team is a Wilton High School student-led club in which members practice debating techniques and participate in tournaments that are sponsored by various organizations throughout the school year. We currently have a membership of 32 students.

Executive Board: Captains Jack Kaelin ('15) and Evaline Xie ('15) lead the team along with Board Members Neel Kaushal ('15) and Daniel Jensen ('16) and Ms. Hujar as faculty adviser.  Members of the Board are elected to their positions at an election meeting that is held annually at the first club meeting in April.

Meetings: The team meets weekly on Thursday nights at 7:00pm in room 231, usually until 8:00pm. At meetings, team members learn about the structure of formal debate, the construction and arrangement of arguments, methods of cross examination, and other skills connected with public speaking and formal debate. Team members also engage in mock debates and discussions relating to potential debate topics and current events. Throughout the year, the Board follows a curriculum in which they teach different styles (CDA, Public Forum, and Parliamentary) and techniques of debating. Most team meetings are for everyone, so if you can’t attend an upcoming tournament, that won’t influence your participation in the meetings leading up to it. The season began on September 4th, 2014.

State TournamentsAfter learning about the style and structure of formal debate at team meetings, members have the opportunity to participate in state tournaments sponsored by the Connecticut Debate Association (CDA) that are held at area high schools monthly. Currently there are over thirty high schools participating in the CDA. There are two CDA tournament divisions: Novice and Varsity. All new members are automatically placed in Novice, and more experienced debaters are in Varsity. CDA tournaments are thus a great way for members to debate students on the same level from other schools. 
State Finals will be held by Wilton High School for qualified debaters at the end of March.

National Tournaments: Students also have the opportunity to attend national tournaments at area universities. Parent judges, drivers, and chaperones play an integral role in allowing us to attend these tournaments. Unlike CDA tournaments, topics for most of these tournaments are released weeks in advance, so the team must invest additional time in order to be fully prepared. Even though they require more work, these tournaments are the highlight of the year and are generally held at large universities. Additionally, students argue in pairs in all debates. This format is especially advantageous for new members since each new debater can share, learn, and work side by side with another student in gaining debate experience. If debaters do exceptionally well in two of these tournaments, they can qualify for the Tournament of Champions.

Recognition: Since the 2008-2009 school year, the team has tripled in size and has been the best team in the CDA each year. Last year, the team won forty-eight trophies in the CDA, including Third Place in the Varsity Division at CDA State Finals. Regarding national tournaments, four astounding Wilton pairings qualified for the elimination rounds at the Yale Invitational this past October, with one pairing winning the parliamentary division of the tournament, and five "made the break" at the UPenn Liberty Bell Classic in February. The Board occasionally publishes press releases to promote the team’s achievements as well. 

Commitment: Members can come to as many (or few) meetings and tournaments as they would like. However, attendance is considered for member eligibility, voting requirements, and size-restricted tournaments. To be considered an official member, students must attend at least 1/2 of team meetings and a minimum of 1 tournament by the end of the year. Also, time might be needed outside of team meetings for mock debate and/or tournament preparation. Even though we are a structured club, students enjoy being part of the team!

Joining: Prior experience is not required to join the team. The beginning of the year is devoted exclusively to teaching new members the various styles of debate. Don't be intimidated if you are an inexperienced debater, as most of your opponents will be in the same position. There are many advantages to being on the Debate Team, but above all, debate is a very important life skill that will help members in their classes and in their futures, regardless of their interests or pursuits.