POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie High School students, along with those from Dover and Wappingers, brought their A-game to the fall 2023 Dutchess BOCES Debate Tournament held at Dutchess Community College (DCC), debating complex and diverse topics.
The students followed the “World Schools” debate format where a team of three dubbed “The Government” argued in favor of a Viewpoint, while “The Opposition” argued against it. Topics included the United States implementing a four-day workweek and whether personal privacy is subordinate to the public good.
BOCES’ Educational Resources Coordinator Audrey Roettgers and DCC Speech Professor Margeaux Lippman coordinated and facilitated the debate where DCC students and BOCES staff judged the students’ efforts.
Roettgers most enjoy seeing returning students evolve in their debate style year after year. “That really gives you the opportunity to watch them grow as debaters,” Roettgers said. “We’ve got it down to being a well-oiled machine.”
Unsupported image type.Students gain numerous skills including how to structure a sound argument and actively listen, something Roettgers believes is underutilized. “It’s to really understand what someone else is saying and being able to refute a point and to understand what their cognizant argument is, so you can respond appropriately,” Roettgers said. “This is something that can work for a lifetime.”
Senior Jada Morgan, president of PHS’ Debate Club, started out in the club as more reserved, but soon found her voice and hopes to be a role model that other older debaters were to her.
“I kind of didn’t expect it because I was really shy,” Morgan said. “I wanted to set an example for everybody.”
Initially, Morgan was supposed to attend the debate for moral support, but since some of her teammates did not show, she stepped in to argue her points. While the team was nervous at first, they overcame that very quickly.
“It will feel very scary at first, but once you come and you talk to everyone you realize how nice everyone is,” Morgan said. “We felt good about the topic, we had strong evidence,”
Freshman Isabella Taliaferro joined the club because she desires to be a lawyer. While there, she learned to make more sound arguments and be organized.
“It’s been kind of stressful, but that’s what it’s like in the real world, so I want to get used to that,” Taliaferro said. “Once I found out about Debate Club in middle school, I decided this is what I wanted to do.”
Taliaferro prepared extensively for the debate and acknowledged Global Studies teacher Sankung Susso for being a big help.
“He’s been a very good support system,” Taliaferro said of Susso.