• If you don't find an answer on this page, feel free to contact me at jplinsky@usd497.org and I'll be happy to help you.
    Q:  Is Debate a class or a competitive activity?
    A:  Both.  Debate is a co-curricular class.  It operates much like Band, Orchestra, or Choir, in that we do classroom activities that are skill and content focused to prepare us for performances/competitions.  Debate Tournaments happen on the weekends, and are the culmination of our classroom preparations.
    Q:  Does my student need to compete every weekend?
    A:  No.  The minimum class requirement is 3 tournaments.  Students may choose to compete at more than 3.  Competing at more than 3 tournaments offers more educational benefits, opportunities to earn a letter,  and potentially a spot or spots in post season tournaments. 
    Q:  How does my student know which weekends s/he is competing?
    A:  Students sign up in the Debate room for weekends they want to travel.  If they have a conflict on a particular weekend, they simply don't sign up.  This does require students to plan ahead, and it does require families to discuss scheduling conflicts early in the semester.
    Q:  What happens if my student can't participate in the minimum number of tournaments?
    A:  A student who does not compete in three or more tournaments cannot pass Debate class.  We view tournaments like tests.  Students who take no tests do not pass other classes.  Debate is no different.  The nice thing about Debate is, families get to plan their tournament schedule ahead of time so there are no surprises as the semester progresses.  If there are extraordinary, extenuating circumstances, we will work with a student.  But a simple failure to plan ahead is not sufficient to have this requirement waived.  The coaching staff recommends families plan for 5 competitions, so that minor illnesses don't put a student's grade at risk.  Then, if the student has completed three tournaments and does not want to compete again, the student simply doesn't sign up for the last two tournaments the family had planned for.
    Q:  How does my student get to tournaments?  Do I have to transport him/her?
    A:  We travel as a team, by school bus or school van.  Parents are only responsible for getting their student to LHS in time to meet the bus.
    Q:  How do I know which tournament(s) my student is signed up for?  
    A:  Your student should be able to tell you whether s/he has signed up for a particular weekend.  Managing their schedule is an important skill for students to learn, in order to be successful in high school.  The coaching staff will give each student a travel sheet the week of the tournament.  Usually these are handed out Tuesday or Wednesday before a Friday/Saturday tournament. This information will also be posted on the Debate Website, under the "Travel Sheets" tab.  
    Q:  How do I know what time the bus leaves?  Does it really leave that early Saturday morning?
    A:  The travel sheets will have a complete schedule of when students will be travelling and competing.  Most Saturdays we leave between 5:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. in order to be at the host school by 7:30 a.m.
    Q:  The return time is listed as 3-10 p.m.  That's a 7 hour window.  Is that an error?
    A:  Nope.  If we have teams do well, and advance through quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, we will be home late.  If no one advances into the elimination rounds, we will watch quarterfinals, and then head home.  Our standard procedure is to instruct students to call home as we are leaving the tournament to give you advanced warning of our arrival time.  Your student should call you and say something like "We will be home in 45 minutes.  Please come pick me up." 
    Q:  Is Debate a spectator sport?  Do parents go watch their students debate?
    A:  Occasionally parents do come watch their students, but it is not the norm.  I encourage you to see your student debate at least once in his/her career.  But most parents who watch a round or two feel like they've seen what they want to see.  Debate isn't entertainment.  It is a rigorous intellectual competition.   If you want to watch your student debate, get in touch with the coaches ahead of time, and we will happily work with you to find the best time and place for all involved.
    Q:  If my student is really bad at debate, and doesn't win any rounds at tournaments, how will that affect his/her grade?
    A:  It won't.  Tournament points are based purely on whether or not students compete, not whether they win or lose.  Winning is its own reward, and generally functions as a motivator.  Grades will also be based on assignments handed out in class, practice rounds in class and after school, and research assignments.  It is entirely possible for a student to get an "A" without ever winning a debate.  However, that is unlikely, because if they do everything we teach them, they will find some success.
    Q:   What supplies does my student need for Debate?
    A:   We generally work with Office Depot to put together a package of supplies.  It will include a large plastic file box, hanging file folders, legal size pads of lined paper, colored pens, and post it notes.  A flash drive is also helpful, but your student doesn't need one exclusively for debate.  It can be a drive s/he uses for other classes as well.  Students who have a reliable laptop may prefer to debate using electronic files, instead of paper files.  If your student wants to debate paperlessly, please contact the coaches as soon as possible so we can walk you through what you need to do to make that work.  Note: tablets and IPads do not work for Debate, at this point.  The device must be able to run Microsoft Word, and be able to use macros.  (As of this writing, we've not had much luck getting tablets and IPads to run macros, even if they have Word installed.)  Whether your student chooses paper or paperless, there is no real competitive difference or disadvantage.
    Q:  What should my student wear to Debate tournaments?  Is there a uniform?
    A:  While there is no uniform, per se, your student will be competing against other kids wearing suits, slacks, business skirts, and other similar attire.  Boys need to wear a tie, dress shirt and slacks, and dress shoes.  Suits are not required, but boys who intend to be serious about competing in Debate should invest in one before they begin post-season tournaments.  Girls should wear what is appropriate when men are wearing business suits.  Because of the evidence boxes they carry, and stairs they have to climb, many girls find slacks and flats to be the most practical combination.  Girls who intend to be serious about Debate should also consider investing in a business suit before competing in the post-season.  If you look at the pictures on the home page, you can get an idea of what appropriately dressed debaters wear.
     Q:  How does my student get access to meals at tournaments?  Does s/he need to pack a lunch?
    A:  Packing a lunch is always a good option.  This is particularly true if your student has dietary restrictions.  Many host schools offer some kind of pizza or sandwich lunch deal in the neighborhood of $5 to competitors.  If there is no lunch deal offered, we generally pool money from interested students and order pizza to be delivered.  If the coaches know ahead of time what the lunch plan is going to be, we will include that information in the travel sheet.