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Debate Program Helps Students Improve Public Speaking

At EHS, our debate program consists of a few elective courses—an introductory course and a more advanced course. Some students find themselves in a debate class to learn about the art itself, others to get better at public speaking, and still others want to have fun voicing their opinions. Some students are interested in competing and might even have ambitions to practice law or study public policy. The class itself has formal debates that the students spend weeks preparing for, but also has some fun games and low-stakes activities.

Though the Debate Team is small, it's made up of a couple of students who have typically taken the debate class and are interested in competition. Because of the pandemic, debate tournaments have mostly moved over to Zoom and similar platforms. Evan Harris, our debate instructor, who also teaches in the English Department, works with Jordan Butler, a new physics teacher at EHS and a former debate champion herself, who helps Harris prepare those students for competition.

Evan found his way to debate through teaching AP Language, Government and Economics, and as a director of theatre. He says, "If you add those things up you get pretty close to 'debate coach,' but I definitely had a lot of research to do and relied on help from Mark Mitchell who taught the class before me. My favorite thing about the class is how much we laugh. We play a lot of public speaking games and that sometimes blur the lines between debate and improv."

Coco Daly Hill, an enthusiastic debate student, loves the program and says, "The debate program not only allows students to improve their public speaking skills but creates a safe space to share your opinions and grow as a person."

--Emma Kate Tsai